An Open Letter & Open Report – Knoxville History Fair
From: “HK Edgerton” [firstname.lastname@example.org]
Date: Aug 23, 2019
Subject: An Open Letter & Open Report / Knoxville History Fair
To: “LM S” [Lunelle63@gmail.com]
Dear Ms. Lunelle,
After not raising enough funds to venture to the candy shop in Hillsborough, North Carolina, and on to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, I would accept an invitation from the Longstreet Zollicoffer Camp #87 of the Sons of Confederate Veterans to attend the City of Knoxville’s Annual History Fair in downtown Knoxville.
I would be told that in no uncertain terms that my battle flag would be welcome; it was, after all, a history event.
On Saturday morning, August 17, 2019, alongside the Camp Quartermaster, Mr. Rod O’bar, don in the uniform of the Southern soldier, we would make our way to the spot in the city park where the Sons and Daughters were busy assembling their tents and wares.
After aiding them in their endeavor of preparation for the days event, I would unfurl my flag. I was told immediately by the Honorable John Hitt that I could not do so, and that I would have to furl the colors.
Shocked and dismayed, I would ask why? There was the Son’s big tent with the national logo on all sides of the top (Confederate Battle flag) of the tent. This was a history fair, and besides, I had been told that my flag was welcome.
Mr. Hitt said that he would go and have more conversation with the lady in charge with the intent of persuading her to reverse her decision of banning the colors. When he returned with her, it was apparent he was getting nowhere. I asked her why all of a sudden she had banned the United States Congressional venerated symbol of the American Veteran, “the Confederate soldier who was entitled to any and all amenities of any other American Veteran?”
And, to take my colors away, she might as well cut off my arm, and throw me in a grave. She proclaimed that it was not her doing, but that of her Board. I again asked why?
Her answer was that given the hostile environment against the flag, that there might be violence ensued at the event. I told her that I would go across the street and post my colors, and that if I had not ridden with Mr. O’bar, and left my car at his home, I would leave.
Her reply was … “Mr. Edgerton, please don’t do that! People would assume that you are acting on behalf of the Sons,” she said, pointing at the Sons’ tent. And, they might not let them attend next year. There was not a Son or Daughter present who did not know just how despondent that I was, as I took a seat on one of the park benches. And, I told them all, had I known this action was forthcoming then I would not have come, unless it was to do battle against this injustice.
Had it not been for the Honorable David Chaltas (General Lee Re-enactor) who appointed me years ago, the official color sergeant for him in the re-enactor community, I would have remained seated on that bench for the rest of the day. Make the best from this color sergeant, he said. I would ask and receive permission to bear the 1st National flag for the rest of the day as word would spread like wildfire on social media. I was told, “Something is wrong. HK is not carrying his flag.”
And, not to forget the other General Robert E. Lee who was present, would tell me that he had been spit on at three other events similar to this. I told him that anybody of the Northern or Southern soil who would spit on General Lee, would spit on Jesus Christ.
There were many from our contingent at the end of the day who would proclaim that in lieu of the debacle with the flag, it had been a successful day. I would vow that I would return the very next day to this den of inequity, don in the uniform of the Southern soldier and post the battle flag.
And, alongside Mr. O’bar, I did. I will only note the conversation I had with three Korean businessmen who would say to me that they had been taught in their country that the American Civil War was fought to maintain the economic institution of slavery. And, that all black people in the South and arguably the North hated the Confederate Battle flag.
And to their utter surprise, to see a black man standing here dressed in a Confederate soldiers uniform, brandishing the Confederate Battle flag, why?
Thirty minutes later, they would each give me a hug, and a word of thanks for a new tale they promised that they would take home. God bless you!
Chairman, Board of Advisors Emeritus, Southern Legal Resource Center
Honorary Life Member, Bradford Rose Camp 1638, Sons of Confederate Veterans
Honorary Life Member, Forest Orphans Camp 1744, Sons of Confederate Veterans
Honorary Life Member, Texas Division, Sons of Confederate Veterans
Honorary Scott of Austin
Recipient, United Daughters of the Confederacy, Jefferson Davis Medal
Honorary Life Member, North Carolina, Tennessee and Georgia Orders of the Confederate Rose
Member, Save Southern Heritage Florida
President, Southern Heritage 411