Re the recent editorial, "Heritage isn't synonym for hate":
As the commander of the "more radical" camp of the Sons of Confederate Veterans a "couple of years ago," I would like to give the rest of the story.
The Brig. Gen. E.P. Alexander Camp 158, as the only Georgia SCV Camp then within a 30-mile radius of Columbia County and half its membership being Columbia County citizens, only asked the County Commission for a flag on the monument at Patriots Park.
After much hand-wringing the County Commission said "no" to the soldiers flag being engraved on the Confederate side, with over 300 names on the War Memorial at Patriots Park. The United States side has about 30 names and a full-color United States flag engraved upon it.
After the County Commission said no to the flag at the park, they all voted to allow Camp 158 to place a lone, privately funded Confederate monument on county property other than Patriots Park. Camp 158 did not ask for a separate Confederate monument, but that's what we got!
When we asked for the location to be the front lawn of the new Justice Center, the hand-wringing started again. Chairman Jim Whitehead vowed that no Confederate monument or symbol would be erected on Columbia County property while he was chairman. Alvin Starks, a black man with deep roots in Columbia County and the Republican Party chairman at the time, put the question on the Republican primary ballot. He was replaced soon after.
About 90 percent of Columbia County voters said they wanted the Confederate monument on the Justice Center's front lawn. That's more than voted for the at-large chairmanship for the County Commission, and even more than the most recent vote for the new Georgia flag!
But by that time the Gen. A.R. Wright Camp 1914 had recently formed and the monument project was turned over to them. Camp 1914 accepted the terms of the County Commission to advance to the rear corner of the Justice Center on election day before the polls had closed.
The only controversy was the Columbia County Commission disregarded a fair vote and mandate of Columbia County citizens for a Confederate monument on the Justice Center's front lawn.
Past Commander Camp 158 SCV
(T.W. Highsmith also is commander of chapter 50 of Augusta's Military Order of the Stars and Bars, and adjutant general of the Georgia Society of MOSB.)
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