The Virginia Flaggers, a local heritage group, endured weeks of controversy when earlier this summer they proposed raising the flag along side heavily traveled Interstate 95, just south of the Capital of Virginia.
There were no protesters at the flag-raising ceremony, although a police presence was evident. Because of the risk of fighting between pro and con flag groups, the actual date and time of the event was kept secret until close to the time the event took place.
Folding chairs were assembled before a rough circle of earth that had been cleared of brush and limbs. The flagpole could be seen from the Interstate close by. After a short prayer, a historian spoke. What followed was fiery oratory from several people about efforts to snuff out "their history," and then came the singing of "Dixie," followed by "Amazing Grace," played on the bagpipes.
Susan Hathaway, a member of the Virginia Flaggers had this to say about the flag raising:
“As sons and daughters of the South, we have inherited a birthright. Ours is a proud heritage, We are descendants of Confederates, we are friends of Confederates. ... The flag that is being raised today will be a living, breathing memorial to our Confederate dead.”
It goes without saying that the raising of the Confederate flag has created an uproar in and around Richmond. It is hard to dismiss the fact that our city was at one time the capital of the Confederacy. So opinion runs high and is never too far from the top of the simmering pot.
Brian Cannon, a Richmond attorney, was among the organizers of a number of social media protests against the flag raising, including an online petition that gathered over 25,000 signatures in opposition to the Flag raising. Cannon summed up the sentiment felt by most people opposing the flag raising when he said, “Their flag is out of context. It’s a symbol of divisiveness and for many it’s hateful.”
To counter the raising of the Confederate flag, a 60-foot American flag was raised over a construction site on Saturday, and residents of the city were asked to fly and display American flags from their homes and businesses.