An Open Report / American Legion Post # 2, Knoxville, Tn. denies Sons of Confederate Veterans participation in Veterans Day Parade
An apology is in order from me to the Sons of Confederate Veterans in Westminster, South Carolina for not honoring my commitment to attend their Veterans Day Parade. However, upon learning of the ban imposed upon the Sons to participate in the Knoxville, Tennessee Veterans Day Parade by the host sponsor, the American Legion Post #2, my attention would focus on Knoxville.
The American Legion was chartered by Congress in 1919 as a patriotic, mutual-help, war-time veterans organization. As I read the Preamble of their Constitution, I could not help but to think that they could have been members of the Sons of Confederate Veterans. My first thought was that maybe their actions to ban the Sons from the Veterans Day parade in Knoxville stems from the fact that their National organization is headquartered in Indianapolis, Indiana, a Union State in the Great War Between the States. However, every leader that I have had the privy to meet from the Sons of Union Veterans and most of their men have shown a great respect towards the Sons and Daughters of Confederate Veterans. I had given the keynote speech for Lee/Jackson Day at Johns Hopkins University several years back and the Commander of the Union Veterans had issued a Proclamation in support of the memory of the Sons of Confederate Veterans and their honorable flag.
I would again return to the Legions Preamble to seek some merit or justification for their actions. Finding nothing but hypocrisy in their actions, I would turn to the Southern Legal Resource Center to determine legal merit for their actions, and that of the City of Knoxville who would associate itself with this content discrimination imposed upon the Sons and arguably the Daughters of the Confederacy and the ladies of the Order of the Confederate Rose who usually are alongside the Sons at these kind of events. Because of the lateness of the hour, I could not wait for a legal determination and resigned myself that for the first time I might have to break the law and spend some time in jail in defiance of this social injustice.
On Tuesday morning, I would don the uniform of the Southern soldier and make my way to the city of Knoxville. Arriving two hours before the parade would start, I would station myself on the corner of Gay and Church Street where I would later be joined by Ms. Lisa Thomas who carried not only a insignia Battle Flag that read “These colors are not coming down,” but Ms. Thomas had purchased several Confederate battle flag kepis and began giving them away to others who were in support of the plight of the Sons. Before long, thanks to Ms. Thomas, we had a small army of supporters. A young police officer would ask of me because I was dressed in uniform, was I in the parade? I told him that I had come to support the position that the Sons should be allowed to be a participant in the parade and that I had planned to enter it. He told me to have a good day, and as I expected, he told his supervisors of my intent and shortly thereafter uniformed police officers began to show up at our position.
Five minutes before the parade would come upon us, a uniform police Captain would approach me. Very graciously, he would ask me not to enter the parade. I would abide by this request. He would remain close by and observed with some admiration the ovation the parade participants would bestow upon those of us who had posted the colors of the Southern soldier. I returned so many salutes until my arms still ache. After posing for many, many pictures and conducting several interviews before and after the parade, Ms. Thomas would so graciously take me to lunch. It had been a great day in Dixie in lieu of the egregious act of an organization composed in part of military minded people who had heaped a mountain of shame upon a great city who had in part supported their actions.