Policies, proposed policies and Confederate flags

By Vicki Hyatt | Dec 14, 2012
The Army of Northern Virginia battle flag is the one Confederate veterans have determined is the best representation of their cause according to a letter submitted by Kirk Lyons, the lawyer arguing for a policy change in Haywood County.

The Haywood County Board of Commissioners is considering a permanent policy on the posting and placement of flags, monuments, memorials, signs, placards and other displays on county property.

The deliberations have sparked a storm of public comment, much of which is being driven by organizations outside the county boundaries. The issue was originally slated to be discussed at the 5:30 p.m. Dec. 17, board meeting, but now has been postponed until January 2013.

There are a number of Confederate flags which were approved during the Civil War period, and the county draft policy stipulates the "Stars and Bars" flag is the one that is to be displayed. Confederate groups, including the N.C. Sons of Confederate Veterans, the WNC Flaggers and the Southern Legal Resource Center want the Confederate Battle Flag displayed.

Black Mountain attorney Kirk Lyons contends stipulating which flag can be flown is "patently unconstitutional," as are other parts of the draft document being considered by the commissioners.

There is no permanent policy at present but an interim policy allows official government flags to be displayed. This includes the Mississippi state flag, which incorporates a portion of the Confederate Battle flag.

The draft permanent policy allows for the display of flags, signs and other displays, but permission must be requested from the county 30 days prior to the planned placement date. The county manager has the authority to grant or deny permission to post any displays, and if the policy does not specifically address the requested use, authority lies with the Haywood County Board of County Commissioners to grant or deny requests. The proposed policy limits the display of Confederate flags in front of the Confederate Memorial to the First National Flag of the Confederacy, or the “Stars and Bars,” for one day out of the year, Confederate Memorial Day on May 11.

First amendment or public policy?

Commissioners say there is no problem with individuals or groups expressing their opinions on the public property, but say limiting displays is an action that has nothing to do with free speech and everything to do with practicality. County Attorney Chip Killian has advised the board that whatever the policy they agree upon should be viewpoint neutral, make sure the integrity of the courthouse grounds is protected and make sure the First Amendment is adhered to at all costs.

A Raleigh-based group, the N.C. Sons of Confederate Veterans, wants to display the Confederate Battle Flag on a more frequent basis. Kirk Lyons, who works with the Southern Legal Resource Center, and who said he is speaking on behalf of the state group, strenuously opposes the proposed policy and vows to do so "by all legal means necessary if the wording we have brought to your attention remains in the final adopted policy."


Comments (2)
Posted by: Kirk D. Lyons | Dec 14, 2012 16:50

Vicki, good story. WNC Flaggers will be there in force Monday. Let Haywood County residents learn for themselves that despite the erroneous opinion of the Board of Commissioners, most of the support for WNC Flaggers comes from people in Haywood County.  Our point has everything to do with Free Speech as the Commissioners will find out if they adopt this illegal & unconstitutional display policy. Practicality is the favorite excuse of government to deny liberty to the people. They should just leave things as they were. There was no problem they needed to concern themselves with

Posted by: YVONNE GILBERT | Dec 14, 2012 19:24

To the Editor:

I would like to respond to Mr. George Crockett’s comments regarding the Confederate Flag “battle”. First I would like to say, there is enough division in the United States without adding another . I am proud to say that I am the third generation of European Immigrants to New York, making me a Yankee by your definition , and I have lived in North Carolina for almost thirty years, so I guess I qualify as a “Damn Yankee”. I do not in any way think I am above any other person, and as far as I know the only “true” Americans ” are the American Indians.

I only “demand” that people extend the same courtesy to me as I do to them. No more , no less.

The issue of displaying the Confederate Flag, is not a “Northern “ issue, but a radical “leftist-liberal” attitude, the same that challenges prayer in school, the display of the Nativity and other civil rights supported by the U.S. Constitution.

Now I’d like to share a little Southern History with you that you may not be aware of. Prior to the Civil War of 1861, there was only one military, called the “OLD ARMY of approx. 13,000 men. . Men who were part of this militia were scattered though -out the states that existed (13) and on the frontiers beyond the Mississippi. When Fort Sumter was attached, the Union Army came together and as the war progressed, sentiments on both sides determined which side of the battle men took. It was not unusual to see fathers and sons, brothers, uncles etc. on opposite sides. Nothing to do with state boundaries or demographics. . As a matter of fact, General Lee, originally from Virginia( considered North) was offered a position of Field General, and chose not to join the Union Army, and joined the Confederacy. Many men who were friends met on the battlefields as enemies, bound by “duty”.

Another would be Gen. George Cooke, of the Union Army who had two sons in the confederacy, one of which was a General. Of even greater significance is the Union’s First Lady’s ( Mary Todd Lincoln ) entire family , adhered to the South, she had 2 brothers and a brother-in-law killed in the war.

African-Americans joined the battle in 1865 and backed the North. they were 185,000 strong. So they also have an investment in the Confederate Flag.

Now to the “Flag” itself. There were several Confederate Flags , before the final one that we recognize was adopted. Initially , the first National Flag was referred to as “ Stars and Bars”. It had a blue square with a circle of twelve stars and one in the center and three color bars. The top and bottom red and the middle bar white. It is currently hanging in the Museum of the Confederation, in Richmond Virginia. Another drafted flag design was a solid blue/black rectangle with a red cross in the center with thirteen while stars vertically and horizontally inside the cross.

However, in designing the flag that we call the established Confederate Flag, it was symbolic of the SAUNDERED FAMILIES SPLIT BY WAR. Thus the “X” with stars to represent the states. There was one last flag designed one month before the surrender ( 1865 ) which was a rectangle , split in half, the right side red ant left side white and in the upper white side, the confederate flag. This was not adopted as it was interpreted as an act of defiance.

So the argument that the Confederate Flag symbolizes slavery, is inaccurate. The initial provocation was one of politics and industrialization. There were monumental amounts of deaths on both sides, black and white. Slavery , and freedom later became the focus of the war, that eventually ended with the Emancipation Proclamation” setting all “slaves” free.

I proudly hang the Confederate Flag, as a symbolic gesture to HONOR all those who died in a horrific war, nothing more.

So Mr. Crockett, you see there are many “Yankee’s” who think and feel like me. As a matter of fact, my son was names after General Lee.


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