Let’s avoid displays of discord

Published 10:14 am Friday, April 26, 2013

To the Editor:

It is indeed sad that our wonderful and traditional local “Shad Planking” political event has become “too partisan” as reported recently in the media. The Wakefield Ruritan’s intent in hosting this annual party was to have an open political forum wherein all groups are welcome and attendees pay to support local volunteer emergency services. This is a truly noble and worthy cause.

The Ruritans mistake was, perhaps, being a little too welcoming by inviting fringe groups like the Sons of Confederate Veterans and allowing them to prominently display their Confederate “battle” flags. The display of such flags is intended to offend and that, of course, is exactly what it does. My SCV friends like to say they are about “heritage not hate” but the display of the Saint Andrew’s Cross flag of the Army of Northern Virginia in very inappropriate settings sends the exact opposite message.

The ANV battle flag, as we all know, is not the Confederate National Flag under which Southern soldiers fought and died during the War between the States. The display of the battle flag disrespects the proud memory of those who do respect the heroic endeavors of the many brave Confederate soldiers and sailors who fought for a cause in which they so passionately believed.

If the SCV members were truly about “heritage” they should be careful to only display some of the various historically correct Confederate States national flags. I would suggest a better choice would be the very appropriate “Stars and Bars” rather than the racially charged hate symbol that the battle flag has unfortunately become. The Confederate battle flag’s true historical meaning was distorted by it’s despicable co-option by sundry white supremacist groups like the Ku Klux Klan and the American Nazi Party during our very regrettable “Jim Crow” era of politics here in Virginia as well as elsewhere in the South.

The Wakefield Ruritans must refocus on their original laudatory intent of providing a lighthearted political gathering where one may hear sincere but respectful “roasting” of prominent Virginia political figures and parties. By disallowing other groups whose main motive seems to be discord and division, the Wakefield Ruritans may once again enjoy a wonderful and unique tradition that brings in well-intended donations to their volunteer emergency services.

I might also add that especially during this Sesquicentennial era of sincere and honored remembrance of all who participated in that great and decisive conflict which defined our nation and eventually brought us all back into one union, we should strive to avoid displays of divisiveness and discord.

Albert P. Burckard