Lee Jackson Day 2017 - Confederates Push Back In Lexington, Va
The morning of Saturday, January 14th , 2017, Lee-Jackson Day in Lexington, Virginia, dawned cold and drizzly. As we made our way out to a parcel of land just West of Lexington on Rt. 60, at the edge of Washington & Lee University, we wondered if the inclement weather would affect the turnout for the dedication of the 4th Roadside Memorial Confederate Battle Flag in Lexington. Although there had only been a few days’ notice given, word of efforts by the Rockbridge County Director of Community Development to stop the installation of the flag pole in the days leading up to the service had caused an uproar in the community and when we arrived an hour and a half early, people were already there. By the time the service started, the rain had let up and an estimated 250 people had gathered.
While the CARE parade was taking place a few miles away, we raised and dedicated a 20’ x 30’ Confederate Battle Flag on a 90’ pole.
We were pleased to have Sons of Confederate Veterans National Executive Director Michael Landree to bring the dedication remarks, and the crowd thrilled as the flag was hoisted high to the sound of the “Bonnie Blue Flag” on bagpipes. A musket salute followed the flag raising, where the flag was dedicated “To the Glory of God and in honor and memory of Generals Lee & Jackson, and all of our Confederate heroes.” Special thanks to the Edmund Ruffin Fire-Eaters, Camp #3000, SCV from Mechanicsville for supplying the Color Guard.
The Lexington 60 West Memorial Confederate Battle Flag is the 25th flag raised in the Commonwealth since the fall of 2013. We would like to extend special thanks to Rhett Ingram of Dixiana Steel Company in Columbia, SC for supplying the pole, and to Bryan and Jodi Rowsey of 60 West Gun Shop for their support. The Rockbridge County Director of Community Development has threatened swift action to try and have the flag pole removed. We will be ready to defend her. Stay tuned for updates.
A reporter asked if the scheduling of this flag raising was deliberate in order to avoid confrontation with the CARE protesters. The answer is YES. When it looked like they were going to go ahead with their march on Lee-Jackson Day, we decided that we did not want to be anywhere near Main Street while they were holding their event. Contrary to what the press and the CARE representatives claimed, we never had any intention of having any kind of confrontation with them. We knew there would be women and children among our participants, and had no desire to expose to them to what we have seen and heard at these kinds of protests. We would, however, like to thank for this latest flag site. We were contacted by a Lexington resident shortly after it was announced that the CARE group would hold a MLK march on Lee-Jackson Day, offering their land for the new site....and before we left the flag raising Saturday morning, we had contact information for several more possible sites. One of these days, people are going to realize that all we ask is to be left alone!
By the time we raised the flag and packed up, the CARE group had finished and was leaving downtown Lexington
We held a memorial service at Stonewall Jackson Cemetery at 11:00 a.m., where approximately 300 folks gathered to honor Lee & Jackson and remember their duty and sacrifice to God, Commonwealth and Country. Representatives from 7 different Confederate heritage groups brought greetings, and Sons of Confederate Veterans Army of Northern Virginia Commander Ronnie Roach introduced our guest speaker, SCV Army of Northern Virginia Chaplain Rev. Dr. Herman White. Dr. White gave an inspirational and motivational speech, encouraging all those to follow the example of Lee and Jackson...”Love your neighbor...but stand your ground!”.
Following a rifle salute from an honor guard organized by Va Division SCV 3rd Brigade Commander Reggie Bennett, General Jackson led the Color Guard in retiring the colors, and those who were able, fell in behind them to head out on a march through town.
In an attempt to disrupt the annual Lee-Jackson Day memorial services in Lexington, Virginia, a local anti-Confederate group applied for and received a permit to hold a protest march on the date and time historically set aside for the Lee-Jackson Day parade which typically followed a memorial service at Stonewall Jackson Cemetery.
The Virginia Flaggers immediately filed a request for a parade on Monday, which is the actual MLK holiday, and then offered to switch days with the anti-Confederate protesters since they claimed the purpose of their march was to honor Martin Luther King. They refused the offer, proving their true intention was to disrupt our memorial services and force those who wished to honor Lee and Jackson out of Lexington on that day. The City of Lexington refused to issue a parade permit to the Va Flaggers for later in the day on Saturday, January 14th, but we refused to be pushed out. We scheduled a memorial service for 11:00 a.m. and planned a processional immediately following. There was much speculation about what we were planning, and several groups vowed to "SHUT IT DOWN".
Little did they know that their attempts to minimize the Lee/Jackson holiday would have the opposite effect. After a memorial service attended by nearly 300 citizens, 200 Confederates stepped out of the cemetery and began a pre-planned march through Lexington, with Stonewall Jackson leading a Confederate Color Guard. Lexington police stopped traffic at every intersection as the line stretched several city blocks.
The result was a solemn march which brought salutes and shouts of thanks. The bagpipes played hauntingly as General Jackson led the procession. When we turned the corner at VMI, a bystander captured this video, and allowed us to share it with you.
By the time we reached Hopkins Green and started filing in, the realization of what had just occurred sank in and many were moved to tears. As we watched the circle fill once, then twice, and still the procession continued, we were overcome with emotion.
Yes, we had carefully planned and considered our options. Yes, we went over the route in detail and tried to cover every what-if. What we didn’t expect, although we should know better, is how God would ultimately, once again, take that which was designed for our detriment, and turn it into something spectacular.
At the completion of the march, an impromptu rally continued for a few moments, after which participants disbursed to visit Lee Chapel, the VMI Museum and other Confederate attractions in town.
After lunch, several dozen of us returned to the streets of Lexington to flag until dusk, once again receiving mostly affirmative responses from local citizens. As we closed out the day at General Jackson’s church, which has become our custom, we thanked God for His blessing on what had turned out to be a better day than we had dared to hope for...and left with the satisfaction that Lee-Jackson Day in Lexington had been decidedly Confederate, despite attempts by others to dishonor them.
There seems to be a bit of confusion, brought on by gross misrepresentation of the Lee-Jackson Day events by some in the media. Here are the facts:
*The Va Flaggers DID NOT march through Lexington with Confederate flags on Martin Luther King Day.
*The C.A.R.E. group DID hold a MLK march through Lexington on Lee-Jackson Day.
We DID refuse to let them push us out. We DID hold ceremonies while they were marching and march through town shortly after their event was concluded. We honored Lee & Jackson on Lee-Jackson Day. THEY attempted to disrupt our commemorations. Thanks to the dedication and commitment of hundreds of Confederates...they did NOT succeed.