Confederate flags at ES Cemetery continue to stir controversy

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

By Haley Schichtl

Eureka Springs City Council member Harry Meyer and community member Kathy Attwood appeared at the Eureka Springs Cemetery Commission's regular meeting on Wednesday, Aug. 12, to voice their opinion on the cemetery allowing the Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV) to place Confederate flags on each of the 41 Confederate veterans' graves in the Eureka Springs Cemetery.

The commission did not make any changes to its current rules, but added the subject to next month's meeting agenda for further discussion.

Meyer showed the commission a petition with nearly 100 signatures from other Eureka Springs residents who disagree with allowing the SCV to place the flags.

"This organization is not historical. Their purpose is political," Meyer said. "They wish to promote the 'lost cause' narrative about the Civil War."

Meyer said the "lost cause" narrative claims the war either was not predominantly about slavery, or that slavery wasn't so bad, and portrays Confederate veterans as heroes.

"They're politicizing our cemetery," Meyer said. "And we have former slaves buried there."

The cemetery commission recently passed a rule stating that if family members of Confederate veterans do not want the flag on their relative's grave, they must come forward and say so —otherwise, the SCV will automatically place it there.

"One cannot assume they were in favor of the cause since many were pressed into service without their consent. The Confederacy drafted more men than the Union," Meyer said. "Even if they had volunteered, their attitude toward the cause may have changed before their deaths. Why should we allow someone who is not related to those buried here to decide what is placed upon their graves?"

Meyer also mentioned that because these men died 100 or more years ago, it is likely that family members are no longer around to protest it, so there's no way to know whether they want the flag there or not.

"This controversial symbol, which represents hate and oppression, is protected by the First Amendment," Meyer said. "However, it does not protect those who place it upon someone else's property."

Attwood said the flag’s symbolism has changed over the years.

"After the Civil War, the Confederate flags pretty much disappeared. The war was over; the South lost," Attwood said. "In the '50s, it came back and was carried by people who opposed the Civil Rights Movement. This includes the KKK and white supremacists."

Having these flags in the cemetery makes the community look foolish to outsiders visiting the cemetery, Attwood said. She said that the SCV seeks to distort history, not preserve it.

Members of the cemetery commission disagreed with the sentiments expressed by Meyer and Attwood.

Commissioner Bruce Wright said if the commission did not allow the Confederate flags to be put out, it would have to stop allowing the placement of all flags, including American flags.

"There's 4,600 burials, and 41 Confederates; that's less than 1 percent," Wright said.

"Some people are using this flag as a way to preserve history," said commissioner Roderick Beattie.

Commission chair Susan Tharp said she would be willing to compromise by only allowing the flags to be put out on holidays, such as Veterans Day, Memorial Day and Independence Day, rather than all year round.

"This town is known for its diversity and being accepting of everybody," Tharp said. "I think it's better that we're being open to everyone."

Wright then pulled up and read the definition of diversity.

"It means understanding each individual is unique," Wright said. "These can be along the dimensions of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, age, physical abilities, religious beliefs, political beliefs and other ideologies."

The cemetery commission's next regular meeting is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. Wednesday, Sept. 9 in The Auditorium.

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  • Put any flags out if you must, on Memorial Day and Veterans Day ONLY, like they do in all other cemeteries throughout the United States. It's that simple.

    -- Posted by jolsonal on Thu, Aug 20, 2020, at 3:38 PM
  • Regardless of which side the military people served on. Regardless of their reason for serving. Regardless of their beliefs then. Regardless of their families' beliefs then or now. Regardless of the WORLD's beliefs....

    These people fought in a war for THEIR Country, be it north or south! Just because the north won does NOT mean the south & her efforts, for whatever reason(s), should be disregarded!! This is OUR history! Like it or not, LEARN from it!! Do NOT try to hide it or it WILL happen again!!!

    -- Posted by frogg13 on Thu, Aug 20, 2020, at 6:37 PM
  • What happened in Germany in the 30/40s? Nobody knows. A decade of German history erased because flying a Nazi flag is illegal. smh

    -- Posted by csuper on Fri, Aug 21, 2020, at 8:44 AM
  • By requiring permission you will put a end to Memorial Day flagging and Veterans Day...The American Legion, VFW, SCV and other veterans groups will no longer be able to put flags out because “they need permission”. What a insult to ALL veterans who fought and died for this country. If the family doesn’t want a flag they have a option to discretely mark the graves so no flags will be placed. It’s the best option for everyone. Respect the Veterans Blue or Gray. The battle flag is the symbol of a Confederate Soldier period! Meyer said "One cannot assume they were in favor of the cause since many were pressed into service without their consent. The Confederacy drafted more men than the Union," They fought didn’t they? Just as many of our Vietnam Veterans were drafted and did not want to be their they still deserved to be honored! Also Meyers statement above is built on a lie The Union drafted a official number of 776,829 men. The whole Confederate Army through 4 years totaled only between 750,000-1,000,000 men.Though the percentage is higher for the Confederate conscripts the Union Conscripted more men! Honoring Veterans should be allowed any and everyday because we enjoy the pleasure of life every single day. BECAUSE THEY FOUGHT FOR ALL OF US!

    -- Posted by Civilwarbuff on Fri, Aug 21, 2020, at 11:11 AM
  • I am a veteran and a patriot. I haves lived here in Eureka Springs for over 40 years. Well I am reposting again, apparently the “Citizen” is censoring and deleting postings from those who are supporting the flags. Mine was removed along with many others. Typical Media Control. The ones opposing the flags Believe the Civil War was all about slavery. It was not the average Confederate soldier was fighting and protecting their homeland and their way of life. Only a small percentage owned slaves (6%). These soldiers were defending their livelihood, their families, livestock and farm from an outside source. In fact, most of these veterans settled here in Eureka Springs and became pillars in the community. No hate here. Don’t let the Southernphobics, Myers and Atwood’s convince you otherwise. Their talk spews prejudice and Hate. I have made a living and have a Passion of Historic Preservation, not historic destruction. Vote for the flags and support “All Veterans”. Let these veterans, REST IN PEACE!

    -- Posted by Stonewiz1 on Fri, Aug 21, 2020, at 1:27 PM
  • The hypocrisy of the politically correct/woke crowd knows no bounds it seems. Diversity is their strength but only for those who are diverse in the proper manner. Those whose views they disagree with or don't properly understand are not included in this privileged group. Here's a news flash for Myers and Attwood; the War of Aggression Against the South was NOT about slavery but was the culmination of a resistance to an oppressive central government and State's rights. My Welsh ancestors homesteaded land in Kentucky and over the generations built a large and successful farm without ever owning a slave and to my knowledge to this day a black person has never set foot on that land and that's not because they aren't welcome. My ancestors fought proudly for the Confederacy and to this day I fly the Confederate Battle Flag on memorial day in their honor. The only hatred associated with that flag comes from those who do not understand its meaning.

    -- Posted by GlobalMapper on Fri, Aug 21, 2020, at 2:53 PM
  • I have very little respect or interest for the opinions of people in local political office or otherwise whose desire is to constantly stir up trouble and conflict, to tell others what they can and cannot do and is so often based on a life lived completely absent of of any self sacrifice or self reliance.

    -- Posted by ksrt1950 on Fri, Aug 21, 2020, at 4:17 PM
  • I believe most posting illustrate my feelings! I'm not sure of the idiocy of some people who jump on the band wagon of ignorance and stupidity in wanting change to our history. We did have a Civil War with both side fighting for what they believed in....that's history. No one alive today participated including the slaves, yet those wanting to hide the flag, tear down monuments and blow up Mt. Rushmore illustrate the nutjobs we have in this country. And what can be worse....those who want to appease these people. Let the Confederate flag fly, and for those it offends, find something else to cry about!

    -- Posted by Concerned Person on Tue, Aug 25, 2020, at 10:32 AM
  • Amen to concerned person.

    -- Posted by Saints4me on Tue, Aug 25, 2020, at 5:53 PM
  • I agree with these posts regarding flying the flag. It appears that a lot of the liberal nutjobs have escaped from out west and infiltrated the Eureka Springs area over the years and brought their warped way of thinking with them. Eureka Springs was fine before they got here. Too bad they can't go back where they came from. The Confederate flag is part of Arkansas's history. Leave it alone and go find something constructive to do, rather than stir up hate and discontent.

    -- Posted by JW60 on Tue, Sep 1, 2020, at 11:10 AM
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