Confederate group seeking permanent tribute location
By CHERIL VERNON
Wed Apr 13, 2011
PALESTINE — The John H. Reagan Camp of the Sons of Confederate Veterans is planning to locate and obtain private land for an Anderson County Confederate Heritage Plaza somewhere in the county.
Upon request from the heritage group, the Anderson County commissioners’ court voted 3-2 on March 28 to declare April as Confederate History and Heritage Month, with a resolution also calling for the “Stars and Bars” flag — the first national flag of the Confederacy — to be flown at the Anderson County Courthouse for the entire month.
April is officially recognized as Confederate History month in Texas as well as Anderson County.
On April 1, the heritage group raised the Confederate flag at the courthouse. During the ceremony, a group against protested the flag being flown in a public location. Some local citizens then contacted the Palestine City Council saying they were offended that the flag was being flown at the courthouse.
The ensuing controversy attracted national attention as media from Tyler and Dallas television stations flocked to Palestine to cover the story.
On April 4, the Sons of Confederate Veterans removed the flag from the courthouse grounds — four days after it was raised — just as the city council was meeting to discuss taking the flag down.
“We live in this community, we care about this community” said Marc Robinson, commander of the Sons of Confederate Veterans Palestine Camp. “We decided to take the high road and remove the flag at the judge’s request. This was done with the intent of helping to restore harmony to the community of Palestine and Anderson County.
“The original plan was to fly the Confederate flag on the Courthouse Square for the month of April. At the meeting, when the decision was made to voluntarily remove the flag at the county judge’s request, the idea of purchasing property on which to fly our flags on was discussed and tentatively agreed upon,” Robinson said.
During the Civil War, approximately 1,000 men from Anderson County joined the Confederacy. More than one-third of these men died serving their county, state and newly formed nation. More than 500 Confederate veterans are buried in Anderson County, according to the heritage group.
“These men from Anderson County answered the call to arms to do their duty, no different than any other veterans who have answered the same call from the citizens of our county,” Robinson said. “Our intent is to honor the memory of these brave soldiers and let them and their living descendants know that their sacrifices aren’t forgotten.”
During an independent group’s protest of the flag’s removal from the courthouse on April 6, many there said they had no problem with the flag being flown on private property or in a museum but that it should not be flown on county property.
“My issue is not with the Sons of the Confederate Veterans who wanted to honor and recognize their ancestors. I just do not believe this is the right place to fly it in Anderson County,” Palestine resident Versalean Logan said as she watched the April 6 protest.
Members of the Sons of Confederate Veterans in other cities in Texas and across the South are procuring land for Confederate memorials as part of the “Flags Across Dixie” program, Robinson said. The Texas Division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans is planning to work closely with the Reagan Camp to help fund and develop an appropriate memorial to honor Confederate veterans from Anderson County.
An account has been set up at Capitol One Bank in Palestine in the name of John H. Reagan Camp No. 2156, Confederate Heritage Account. The local camp voted to donate $700 at its April 9 meeting to start raising funds to purchase land and erect a memorial plaza.