Who will defend the banner of the Confederate soldier?
Relying only on press releases published by the governor's communication office, one would conclude that Missouri's veterans are well respected and their gravesites well protected by Gov. Bob Holden. In a press release as recent as this past August, Gov. Holden said, "I am pleased that Missouri continues to be a leader in veterans' affairs."
Holden also said, "The Missouri Grant Program (a program established in 1998 to assist in renovation of dedicated veterans' memorials) is just one way the state's citizens can show how much we support Missouri veterans."
Holden may hold in high esteem most of Missouri's veterans but he is dishonoring the graves and memorials of Missouri's own Confederate veterans. Earlier this week, encouraged by one of Gov. Holden's aides, Steve Mahfood, the director of the Department of Natural Resources, ordered the removal of the battleflag that flies over the graves of Missouri's Confederate veterans buried in the Confederate Cemetery at Higginsville.
Higginsville, once a Confederate veterans' old age home, exists as a final resting place and memorial site for 694 brave warriors who fought for their home and state. The flag was also removed from the burial site of the Confederate veterans who died at the Battle of Pilot Knob. Both sites are now under the care and control of the Department of Natural Resources. Reports say the flags will still be on display in the visitor centers.
How long do we really expect that will last?
What should we next expect? Should we expect that all things Confederate will one day be eliminated? Will the Department of Natural Resources soon issue an order that the distinctive pointed tops of the Confederate grave markers be modified so that they can no longer be recognized as Confederate?
How soon will it be before the Sensitivity Police demand that all statues of Confederate heroes be demolished? What will become of the Civil War Battle displays, featuring Missouri Confederate units and their unit flags, which are often on exhibit in the rotunda of the state capitol? What will become of Missouri's history? Will it all be lost due to a rather recently induced perception of the symbolism of a flag?
The battleflag was designed by Confederate soldiers in the field to allow the units in battle to recognize each other in order to prevent their troops from coming under friendly fire. It now seems perfectly acceptable for everyone to shoot at them; however, it can't be described as friendly fire.
When will someone in public office have the courage to step forward to protect these brave soldiers and quit trampling on their graves? When will a public leader, with a sufficient knowledge of history, step forward and reject the preposterous claim that the battleflag is a racist symbol?
The governor, if he is truly serious about Missouri's veterans and their memorials, should immediately instruct Mr. Mahfood to return the flags to the place where they can continue to openly honor Missouri's Confederate veterans.
The governor might also consider requiring a true and accurate history lesson for both Mahfood and himself to learn a little something about Missouri's Confederate heritage and the true history of the battleflag.
Bruce Hillis, Dexter