Missouri Division
Sons of Confederate Veterans
Heritage Defense
A Report on Heritage Violations in Missouri and what actions are being taken to thwart them.

 

For Heritage Defense donations contact Division Adjutant Paul Lawrence (paullawrence21@Charter.net) for further information

 

On Saturday 3/1/03 at 11:00 A.M. in Jefferson city Missouri, Southern Americans showed up in force on the grounds of the Governors mansion to protest the removal of the flags at Higginsville and Pilot Knob Missouri. It was good to see all of your faces and talk with you all. The flags were plentiful and a sight for sore eyes to see.


Gephardt wants Missouri Confederate flag pulled down 
By Scott Charton Associated Press Writer 01/14/2003 11:36 AM 


JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) -- Missouri Democrat Dick Gephardt, who declared after a visit to South Carolina that the Confederate flag shouldn't fly ``anytime, anywhere,'' wants the flag pulled from a publicly funded Confederate memorial in his home state, his spokesman said. ``He did not know this existed, and he believes that flag should come down also,'' Gephardt spokesman Erik Smith said Tuesday. Missouri officials said Monday that Gephardt, the St. Louis congressman and a 2004 presidential hopeful, had never objected to the flag flying year-round at the Confederate Memorial State Historic Site near Higginsville, about 40 miles east of Kansas City. The congressman shouldn't have any concern because the flag, over Missouri's largest Confederate cemetery, is ``presented in historical context in a respectful way,'' said Doug Eiken, Missouri's state parks director. Gephardt initially sidestepped questions about the Confederate flag during a campaign trip last week to South Carolina, where the flag's display led to a black-supported economic boycott. But during the weekend, Gephardt said the flag shouldn't be part of any ``official display'' in South Carolina -- nor, he said, should it be displayed anywhere else. ``My own personal feeling is that the Confederate flag no longer has a place flying anytime, anywhere in our great nation,'' Gephardt said in a statement. The Confederate battle flag has flown for decades at the 192-acre Missouri site, former location of a Confederate veterans home, including a cemetery where remains of 694 Confederate veterans and 108 wives are buried. The state-run site has a $22,000 annual operating budget financed from Missouri's parks and soils sales tax. The flag flutters each day from a pole at the entrance to a chapel next to the cemetery, beneath the Stars and Stripes flag. Around June 3, the birthday of Jefferson Davis, miniatures of the Confederate flag are placed on every grave. A plaque at the park entrance says it is ``dedicated to the valor of the Confederate soldiers.'' Smith, the Gephardt spokesman, said the congressman had never spoken against the flag's display at Higginsville because he wasn't aware of it. ``It's not in the metropolitan St. Louis area and he wasn't aware of it. The statement he issued in South Carolina stands,'' Smith said. Eiken, parks chief since 1994, said he had ``never heard any critical comment from any member of Missouri's congressional delegation'' about the flag display. Curt Senn, the site's administrator, added: ``I've never had someone come up and have a negative comment about it, and in fact, at commemorative events, there have been many positive comments.'' On Saturday, Gephardt issued a statement saying the flag that flies at the Confederate Soldier Monument near South Carolina's Statehouse ``is a hurtful, divisive symbol and in my view has no place flying anywhere, in any state in this country.'' ``I want to be crystal clear to the people of South Carolina where I stand on this issue,'' Gephardt said. ``I think South Carolina should remove the Confederate flag from any official display anywhere in the state.'' In South Carolina, the flag was removed from the Statehouse dome in July 2000 after a nationwide economic boycott led by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. In a compromise to remove the flag from the dome, it was put up at the Confederate monument that sits in front of the Statehouse.


Missouri state officials Tuesday took down the Confederate flags that long have flown at two Civil War sites, after Rep. Richard A. Gephardt blasted any display of such "a hateful and divisive symbol."

But the decision to remove the flags isn't likely to quell the controversy. The leader of the state's division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans is outraged, and says the issue will be raised at the group's executive meeting this weekend.

"I am personally appalled that any of these people who make their living off of my tax money, and the tax money of other Missouri citizens, would turn around and desecrate American soldiers' graves by taking down the flag they fought under," said Gene Dressel, state commander for the Confederate group.

At Gephardt's behest, the Missouri Department of Natural Resources ordered that the flags no longer be flown outside the Confederate Memorial Historic Site near Higginsville and the Fort Davidson Historic Site near Pilot Knob.

The flag at Higginsville had flown over a cemetery containing the remains of Confederate soldiers and veterans.

The action was prompted by an Associated Press story that took note of the Confederate flags flying in Gephardt's home state, at the same time that he was campaigning for president in South Carolina and blasting that state's decision to continue to fly the flag.

Gephardt, D-St. Louis County, replied that he was unaware that Confederate flags were flown on any Missouri government property, and then called for their removal.

Mary Still, communications director for Gov. Bob Holden and a former Gephardt aide, said the controversy prompted her to call state natural resources director Steve Mahfood and point out the congressman's concerns. Still said she had been unable to first contact Holden.

Mahfood, in turn, ordered the flags to be taken down and moved inside the historic sites' visitors centers.

Still says she didn't order Mahfood to take down the flags but asked him to consider "whether it was appropriate to display the flags in that manner." Mahfood says her call merely hastened a decision that he'd been considering for some time.

"We've had a lot of concerns over the years about this issue," Mahfood said.

He said questions arose over whether it was appropriate to fly the Confederate flags outside, from tall flag posts, instead of displaying them lower where viewers could see the flags in context with others, including the Union flag.

At both sites, the Confederate flags now "will be displayed inside the visitors centers in a way befitting their historic context," Mahfood said. "Because of Missouri's very rich Civil War history, we have a number of flags (Union and Confederate) that are in the display."

Gephardt press secretary Kori Bernards said the congressman "is pleased with the decision. The flag is a hateful and divisive symbol. We need to get beyond symbols like that that divide us and embrace those that unite us."

Dressel, who lives in rural Warren County, said he was particularly upset about the removal of the Confederate flag over the cemetery at Higginsville, where it "has flown since the turn of the century."

Critics, including Gephardt, claim that the Confederate flag resurrects the evils of slavery, which had been supported by the Confederate government during the Civil War.

But Dressel said the Confederate flag is unfairly being tarred now with the racist rhetoric of some white-rights extremist groups, rather than recognized as an historic Civil War symbol.

His group, he said, "has repudiated any group that uses the Confederate flag in any of these racist marches. It's these people who are the problem, not the flag."

Dressel accused critics of trying to repudiate the nation's history, good and bad. Slavery ships, he added, "flew under the United States flag, not the Confederate flag."

Reporter Jo Mannies:
St. Louis Post-Dispatch


Last modified: May 12, 2012.