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Sun Jan 24 2021, 03:34PM

Registered Member #1
Joined: Tue Jul 17 2007, 10:46AM
Posts: 3664
Uh, y'all,
I had thought originally this article would be in the paper edition of the Palm Beach Post. I had been looking for it since so informed on Thursday.
The reporter called me, not me him. I am still not knowing how he got my name and phone number.
And as oftentimes happens, the reporter could not quote me in the entirety of the conversation, which was all by telephone, by the way.
So, take it for what it is worth.
Also, I am not knowing if any or all can view the link, as it comes from the paid online subscription and was forwarded to me by a friend.
Any questions, please email and ask. Also, I welcome any comments.
Thank you, all.

Jimmy L. Shirley Jr.



Confederate flag etched in stone at WPB public cemetery

By Joe Capozzi
Posted Jun 25, 2015 at 12:01 AM
Updated Jun 25, 2015 at 5:27 PM

Tony Thomas, the sexton at Woodlawn Cemetery, was on his way home one day in April when he realized he had left his bagged lunch at his office in the back of the graveyard.

“I swung back through to get it and, lo and behold was I ever surprised. I saw the Confederate flag flying instead of our American flag,″ said Thomas, who is black.

The Confederate battle flag flew from the main flag pole in the middle of the city-owned-and-operated cemetery on Dixie Highway only for less than an hour on April 26, for a Confederate Memorial Day ceremony by local members of the Sons of Confederate Veterans.

But a permanent version of the stars and bars is still there. In fact, it has been there for more than 70 years, etched on a 10-foot high marble monument honoring Confederate veterans of the Civil War, fought from 1861 to 1865.

Erected in 1941 by the United Daughters of the Confederacy about 10 yards from the main flag pole, the monument is the only public marker bearing the Confederate flag in Palm Beach County, according to local historians.

City officials say they can’t recall any complaints over the years from people who consider the monument offensive because of its connection to an era of slavery and segregation.

But the recent decision in South Carolina to consider removing the rebel flag from the State House grounds is raising new questions in West Palm Beach about whether the Confederate monument is appropriate in a public cemetery.

“I could see where it could be offensive to some people, especially with what has been going on,″ said Palm Beach County Commissioner Priscilla Taylor.

Inscribed in stone

Florida removed the Confederate flag from the state capital in 2001. South Carolina’s flag debate grew out of public outcry after a white man shot and killed nine black people during a Bible study session June 17 at a Charleston church.

Dylann Roof, the 21-year-old man charged in the massacre, had espoused a white supremacist philosophy and posed for photographs with the Confederate battle flag. The massacre combined with those images of Roof helped set off the nationwide reexamination of Confederate symbols.

“I do think the Confederate flag is offensive,″ Taylor said. “When most people see it, they do think about racism. I don’t think it would be any different for (a flag etched on a monument in) the cemetery. That might be something we need to talk about.″

‘Just leave us alone’

Even the city, which owns the cemetery, doesn’t have the authority to remove the monument “since it’s a privately maintained marker that’s been there for three quarters of a century,” West Palm Beach spokesman Elliot Cohen said.

“But if this came before the city today it would almost certainly be rejected,” Cohen said. “The world is a different place today than it was in 1941, and what may have been acceptable back in 1941 certainly is not appropriate today.”

Commissioner Keith James, one of two black city commissioners, did not return a message. The other, Commissioner Cory Neering, said he wanted to study the monument before offering a comment.

Supporters of the monument say politicians should leave the monument alone, just as city leaders have done for the past seven decades.

The monument is maintained by the local Sons of the Confederacy, who visit Woodlawn every Confederate Memorial Day to honor the Confederate soldiers who died in the Civil War. About 20 Confederate veterans are buried at Woodlawn.

“It’s an important thing we do and it’s one of the more noble things we do,″ said Jimmy Shirley of Palm Springs, commander of the county’s Sons of Confederate Veterans group.

“As one of our members once said, ’Just leave us alone. All we want to do is honor our ancestors.″

Brings pain to others

But others say that should be done in private, not in a public place where the image of the Confederate flag might be considered offensive.

“They may be honoring their ancestors but they don’t know how much pain it brings to other people,″ said the cemetery worker, Thomas, who said he was told his ancestors were slaves in Georgia during the Civil War.

But Shirley said the Confederate flag is a part of the country’s history that shouldn’t be hidden away. “Whether you agree with it or not, history is history,″ he said.

Shirley also said it’s not fair to Confederate descendents to link a debate over the flag to the actions of Roof.

“We deplore that he did that,″ Shirley said, referring to the massacre, “and we deplore that he posed with the Confederate flag.″

Shirley said his group has held ceremonies in the cemetery for at least 10 years without incident or public outcry.

But Taylor said she never knew the monument existed until told by a reporter. “I’ve been to the Norton Museum (across the street), but I’ve never been in that cemetery,″ she said.

Of the graves in Woodlawn, about 20 belong to Confederate veterans, said Debi Murray, chief curator at the Richard and Pat Johnson Palm Beach County History Museum, where a Civil War exhibit will open in August.

It is believed that none of those graves have any Confederate symbols. But Thomas said he knows of one grave with the letters “KKK” — for Ku Klux Klan.

Draws a frown

Thomas said he noticed the Confederate monument the first time he entered the cemetery’s black wrought-iron gates in 2005.

“My reaction was, ’What in the world is that thing doing here?‴ recalled Thomas.

“Some people just can’t move on,″ he said. “They still haven’t forgotten and they just want to carry a burden. Instead of looking forward, they are looking backward.″

Thomas said he never complained to anyone about the Confederate marker because he didn’t want to make waves with his employer, the city of West Palm Beach. But he admits to casting an occasional frown while passing the monument on his riding lawnmower.

Thomas said he was more upset about seeing an actual Confederate flag flying over the cemetery on April 26.

He said the recent events in South Carolina have prompted him to consider asking his supervisors for clarification on whether a private group can remove the American flag from a flagpole on city property and replace it with another flag, even if only for an hour.

As to whether the marker should be removed, Thomas prefers not to offer an opinion. He said he doesn’t expect that to happen, anyway.

“It was here before I got there. I dare not try to rock the boat,” he said. “What is etched in stone you can’t take out.”

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Wed Feb 03 2021, 03:28PM

Registered Member #1
Joined: Tue Jul 17 2007, 10:46AM
Posts: 3664

The monument was removed back in August of 2017. It lay in an undisclosed location. Our SCV camp, helping out the local UDC chapter, transferred the monument to Fairhope Ala. And rededicated it with great pomp and ceremony on the mixing weekend of January and February 2018. Our camp adjutant and myself, along with some several others of the Florida division traveled there to be representing.

Still remembering, still livid!!

Jimmy L. Shirley Jr.

[ Edited Wed Feb 03 2021, 03:29PM ]
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