Museum does a good job of honoring soldiers

Published 8:58 am Friday, May 18, 2012

To the Editor:

In the Friday, May 11, issue of the paper, Peter Griffith of Franklin wrote his opinion entitled “Museum doesn’t tell real story.”

In it, he gave his opinion about the new Museum of the Confederacy in Appomattox, which opened March 31, claiming that Confederate heritage is “trampled by those in Appomattox” and that “the board of the museum is in a war with some members resigning over the curator’s decision to not allow” the Confederate flag to be flown outside.

America is a great country. We are all entitled to our opinions, and newspapers publish those opinions. So here’s my opinion.

I think that the new Museum of the Confederacy-Appomattox is a remarkable testament to the Confederacy and its people. The museum raised more than $8 million to build the biggest monument to the Confederacy since before World War II.

A visitor can see more than 500 artifacts and use interactive displays that incorporate more than 400 stories. It features the largest display of authentic Confederate flags (22 in all) ever attempted by anyone since the war ended, along with interpretive guides to understand those flags. Outside, we chose to fly the state flags of the 14 states, which supported the Confederacy, leading up to an American flag to symbolize the reunification of those states at the end of the war.

Some, like Mr. Griffith, have objected to our choice of exhibits. We have had two camps of the Sons of Confederate Veterans resign from membership (including the local Urquhart-Gillette Camp), along with, at last count, four individual members nationally.

Some of them even object to our choice to fly the American flag, which they call the “occupation flag,” and refuse to say the “Pledge of Allegiance.” (I served under that flag during the Vietnam War, my father during World War II, and my grandfather during World War I.)

Since its opening, more than 9,000 people have visited the new site, and over 600 have joined as individual or family members. The board of directors is delighted in the outcome.

My great-grandfather was one of the founders of the Urquhart-Gillette Camp of the United Confederate Veterans. My grandfather and his brother were among the founders of the Urquhart-Gillette Camp of the Sons of Confederate Veterans.

It is my opinion that they would be honored and delighted by what the museum has accomplished and what they could see.

Waite Rawls
Franklin native
Member of Sons of Confederate Veterans
President of Museum of the Confederacy