Residents speak up on issue of Confederate flags in cemetery
By Haley Schichtl
More Eureka Springs residents voiced their opinions about Confederate flags in the Eureka Springs Cemetery during a cemetery commission meeting Wednesday, Sept. 9.
“They were part of an insurrection to preserve slavery. There’s nothing honorable about it,” said resident Harry Meyer, a member of the Eureka Springs City Council. “The shiny new gravestones they’ve got are also an insult to Americans that died in the rest of the war.”
Meyer said it is unfair that many black people buried in the cemetery don’t even have gravestones, while Confederate veterans have the stones and the flags to commemorate them.
Lindblad and Atwood were also opposed to the use of the flags.
“It is currently used by white supremacist groups and as a symbol of hate,” Lindblad said. “Only people who paid for the gravesite, or the relatives, should decide what is on their graves. This will eliminate the confusion as to who has the right to decide what is to be put on a grave.”
Attwood said she has spoken to several other cemeteries in Arkansas, and none of them allow someone who is not related to people buried to put anything on their grave.
“I think at this time, with our country struggling with racial inequality, the Confederate flag is not a good look,” Attwood said.
Larry Barcley, Terry McClung and Kolt Massie — a member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans — were all in favor of keeping the flags out.
“There were blacks in the Southern army, just like there were blacks in the Northern army,” Barcley said. “These people have a right to have that flag on their grave. … It’s not up to the community, and I don’t think it embarrasses the community.”
McClung, a Eureka Springs City Council member, said slavery was not the main issue of the Civil War.
“There were people in the northern states who were just as prejudiced as the people in the southern states,” McClung said. “Most of the people that fought for the south didn’t own slaves. It was their allegiance to their state, and that was it…. Let’s not erase our history. You do that, you might as well dig them up and throw them in the lake.”
Massie said that sees the flags as a way to show pride in his southern heritage.
“Leave the judging to God,” Massie said. “The very first mayor of Eureka Springs, John Carroll, was a Confederate veteran. … I have no trouble helping you with your cause honoring the blacks in the cemetery.”
Commission chair Susan Tharp said she received a phone call from someone in support of the use of flags and an email from someone against them.
The commission will discuss the topic again at its next meeting, at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday, Oct. 14, in the Auditorium.