Tuesday, December 31, 2013

VaFlaggers: 2013 Year In Review

As we approach the end of 2013, the Virginia Flaggers look back with awe and amazement on what has been a phenomenal year, and with sincerest appreciation for each person whose support and encouragement has made it possible.  Like MANY of you, our folks have been busy, and we want to share just a glimpse of what we have been up to…

For the second year, the Va Flaggers led two days of Flagging in Lexington, VA, in January, to protest the City Council’s discriminatory flag ban, and honor Lee & Jackson on the State holiday.  As in 2012, we sponsored a banner plane, which circled the town during the events on Saturday, and participated in the parade and memorial services.

That same month, Va Flagger TriPp Lewis was arrested for carrying a Confederate Flag on Confederate Memorial Park, on the grounds of the Old Soldiers’ Home in Richmond.  Tripp was carrying the flag as a tribute to his ancestor on the day marking the anniversary of his admittance into the home.  A groundswell of support brought in funds to pay his legal fees, and all criminal charges were dismissed in August.  This laid the groundwork for Civil action, which is currently pending, and will serve to address the ongoing violations of constitutional rights and continued desecration of the Confederate Memorial Chapel and Confederate Memorial Park by the VMFA. 

Throughout the year, our ongoing vigil at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts continued.  EVERY WEEK, TWICE A WEEK, members of the Va Flaggers gathered to forward the colors and protest the forced removal of Confederate Flags from the Confederate Memorial Chapel.  Started in October of 2011, we could never have imagined that what we do there every week would make such a difference.  Each week, we see the fruits of our efforts, as we change hearts and minds, and change the landscape in Richmond.   By our records, our Flaggers logged over 3,000 hours of flagging  at the VMFA alone,  in 2013.  This front, on the sidewalk of the Boulevard, is only one of many which we are pursuing in the battle to RETURN the flags and RESTORE the honor to the Chapel.

In August, news of the sellout of the Museum of the Confederacy meant we added its Richmond location to our flagging schedule, and we have maintained a presence ever since, reminding museum officials that there are those of us who do not take kindly to seeing our heritage and history sold to the highest bidder, and to let visitors and guests know of the shenanigans taking place. 

Susan had the pleasure of speaking at dozens of SCV meetings, and even her first UDC speaking engagement, as she traveled to 9 states during the year, sharing information about heritage defense and encouraging others to take a stand for their ancestors. In April, she was especially honored to speak at the raising of the World’s Largest Third National Flag in Tampa. 

In July, she was pleased to attend the SCV National Reunion in Vicksburg, where she was well received and thrilled to meet so many friends and supporters.  The highlight of the trip was receiving  heritage defense awards on behalf of many of the Va Flaggers, and the news that Susan was awarded the Stephen Dill Lee award, the highest award offered to a non-SCV member by the SCV.

Throughout the year, Flaggers attended dozens of memorial services, including traveling to Point Lookout for the Annual Pilgrimage, and to Sharpsburg for the Memorial Illumination, as well as many, many other local and nearby events.  We saw the formation of other flagging groups across the South, and have assisted with their organization and activities as much as possible, and have lent a hand with other heritage defense issues when help was requested.  We also were and are active in clean-up projects in several local cemeteries, and were proud to facilitate the return of the Robert E. Lee signage to the bridge in Richmond that is named in his honor, which had been missing for some time.

In early August, and in order to raise necessary funds, we announced plans for a Battle Flag Memorial on I-95 near Chester.  Picked up almost immediately by a few liberal news outlets, the intense media publicity and scrutiny that ensued over the next months surprised even the most seasoned heritage defense veterans. 

We unveiled the 15x15 ANV Battle Flag on the steps of the Capitol in Richmond, and the breathtaking photo from that moment, along with the historical information of the birth of the CBF, quickly became viral, and was widely circulated in social media and by news agencies. 

In the end, all of the media attention served to bring us more support than we ever imagined, and on September 28th, in spite of those who said it would never happen,  a 15x15 ANV Battle Flag was triumphantly raised on I-95 in Chester to a crowd of 300+ with absolutely no protests or problems… and still flies today… a living, breathing memorial to the Confederate Soldier. 

For several months, almost daily, the local paper’s editorial page carried an opinion piece about the flag, one way or the other, and has opened the door for many discussions about our heritage.  There was a GREAT piece published in the Wall Street Journal and we were interviewed by media outlets as far away as Great Britain.  EACH TIME we are able to get such coverage, it is a chance to get OUR MESSAGE out…that of the honor and valor of the Confederate Soldier!  A real, and very unexpected byproduct of this was that with each interview, televised news story, or published  article, the spotlight once again was focused on the VMFA and the desecration of the Confederate Memorial Chapel, giving us new platforms to expose their misconduct,  and new support for our efforts there.

Since the flag was raised, we have been contacted by many people with land adjacent to I-95, and other interstates, who are looking to be a part of future projects.  We are looking forward to seeing these projects continue across Virginia and beyond, as land and funds are made available.

The Va Flaggers look back on 2013 and are overwhelmed at all that was accomplished, and overcome with gratitude for each and every person who gave of their time, talents, and resources to make it happen.  As much as we have to be thankful for, we look forward to 2014 with even more excitement and hope that with the blessings of our Creator, and the cheering on of a great cloud of witnesses, 2014 will be the year that the flags will be returned to the Confederate Memorial Chapel, and that Southerners across Virginia and beyond decided to take a stand for our Confederate Heritage, and push back against those who would desecrate our memorials and dishonor the memory of our Confederate dead. 

We have only just begun to fight…will you join us?


Grayson Jennings
Va Flaggers

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