J.D.R. Hawkins

One bullet can make a man a hero… or a casualty.

Archive for the month “April, 2014”

Banning the Confederate Flag (Again)


Recently, another incident has arisen in regard to flying the Confederate flag. This time, the flags in question are on display at Washington and Lee University in Virginia. The institution was originally known as Washington College, but General Robert E. Lee served as president after the Civil War until the time of his death in 1870. That’s when his name was added to the name of the college.

Now twelve law students at the university, who refer to themselves as “The Committee,” have demanded that the president, Ken Ruscio, remove the flags from campus. The only flags that are on display are inside General Lee’s chapel. The students have issued four demands, and promise to engage in civil disobedience if their terms are not met by September.

1. We demand that the University fully recognize Martin Luther King, Jr. Day on the undergraduate campus.

2. We demand that the University stop allowing neo-confederates to march on campus with confederate flags on Lee-Jackson Day.

3. We demand that the University immediately remove all confederate flags from its property and premises, including those flags located within Lee Chapel.

4. We demand that the University issue an official apology for the University’s participation in chattel slavery, including a denunciation of General Robert E. Lee’s participation in slavery.

The law students also added this statement:

We expect that from these immediate actions, a long-term, continued commitment to improving the state of racial justice and honor on campus will develop. We believe the student body is eager to learn about, work toward and directly confront both the past and current bigotry and racial discrimination found on our campus. We are confident that when these demands are met, our University will be one step closer to achieving a community that welcomes students of color and frees them from the psychological shackles that currently exist. We are eager to turn our campus into a shining example—a beacon of hope—for not only the town of Lexington, the Commonwealth of Virginia, and the South, but for the entire nation.

I find this entire issue to be preposterous. “The Committee” claims that the University is racist, but I think they are actually the ones who are racists. Lee was a man of his time who honored his state, and to alleviate the flags from the chapel where he is buried is disrespectful, to say the least. Instead of being offended, these students should worry about their grades. Changing history by eradicating things they deem offensive because they fail to understand, and have failed to do their homework, is alarming. Is this what our country has to look forward to? Lee Chapel is on the Register of Historic Places. Should we disregard everything that only a few find incommodious? If it starts with Confederate flags placed on the graves of its commanders, where will it end? And by denying reenactors to honor their hero by marching on campus is refusing their constitutional rights. Any law student should know that.

The debate continues. To read others’ opinions on the matter, please visit:



Slave Haven

A fascinating relic from the War Between the States still exists in downtown Memphis. Known as Slave Haven, or the Burkle Estate, the small white clapboard house (built between 1849 and 1856) on 826 N. 2nd Street is believed to have been a way station of the Underground Railroad. The house was built by Jacob Burkle, a German immigrant, who also assisted slaves to their freedom by hiding them in a cellar until they could escape north through tunnels leading to the Mississippi River. Slaves then obtained passage on boats traveling up to the Ohio River.There are four underground tunnels in Memphis that were major arteries of the Underground Railroad. The house is marked by two large magnolia trees that were a signal to slaves because of their evergreen leaves. The house is furnished with Victorian furniture, and one room displays quilts that were used by slaves as maps to their freedom. In 1978, the family revealed that the Burkle Estate had been part of Underground Railroad, and the house was opened as a museum in 1997.

The End of Suffering (Or Was It?)

One week after Robert E. Lee surrendered his troops, the first presidential assassination took place when Abraham Lincoln was murdered. Lincoln was attending a play on Good Friday, titled “Our American Cousin,” at Ford’s Threatre in Washington D.C., with his wife, Mary Todd Lincoln. The president was shot point blank in the back of the head by Southern sympathizer and famous actor John Wilkes Booth, who jumped from the presidential balcony and hollered, “Sic semper tyrannis,” meaning “Thus always to tyrants” in Latin. After surviving the night, Lincoln died early the following morning. Secretary of War Stanton said, “Now he belongs to the ages.”

Booth managed to escape with a broken leg, but he was cornered several days later and shot inside a burning barn. Meanwhile, Lincoln’s funeral train traveled across the  country so that people could pay their respects. The train’s final destination was Lincoln’s home state of Illinois.

It was discovered after his death that he had a Confederate five dollar bill in his wallet. For his second inauguration, he had requested that the song “Dixie” be played. It was his intention to bring the Confederacy back into the Union as quickly and gently as possible, and to maintain a unified country at all costs. Ultimately, he paid the price with his own life.

The Saddest Day

Today marks the 149th anniversary of one of the saddest days in American history, when Confederate General Robert E. Lee was forced to surrender. It was sad for the South, because it meant the end of states’ rights and a more unified central government. It was sad for the country as a whole, because over 620,000 men lost their lives. Freed slaves thought it to be the happiest day until they discovered later on that the Federal government had no intention of helping them prosper in society. Because of this lack of support, many freedmen suffered from lack of food, medicine, etc., and had no other recourse but to return to their now impoverished former owners and beg for jobs. Thus, sharecropping began.
Appomattox Courthouse. where General Robert E. Lee surrendered his troops to Union General Ulysses S. Grant, is now an historic national treasure. Wilmer McLean’s house has been restored, as have several other outbuildings at the tavern, located at a crossroads intersection. The road where Confederate soldiers lined up to surrender their arms still exists.

The buildings were in severe decay when restoration began. Mr. McLean lived at the home for five years after the war until his debt forced him to move back to Northern Virginia, where his wife owned a home. From that time until the 1970’s, the house and surrounding buildings stood vacant. Restoration is still in process.


Concerned Citizens Need Your Help

I just received an email from Lee Millar, who is the spokesman for the Sons of Confederate Veterans in Memphis, Tennessee. The ongoing conflict in regard to renaming historical parks in the city, namely Forrest Park, Confederate Park, and Jefferson Davis Park, have been under assault by the Memphis city council. If you can, please support this worthy cause. It is essential that we preserve our heritage. Otherwise, everything is game for political correctness.

April 6, 2014

Dear Fellow Southerners,

We desperately need your support and financial help in our campaign to save our three historic parks in Memphis: Forrest Park, Jefferson Davis Park, and Confederate Park. As you may be aware, we have been in the historical fight with the city of Memphis over their unlawful attack on the history of this city – Southern history, Confederate history, and American history.  The city’s theft of an approved monument commemorating Forrest Park, and the foolish, unwarranted and hateful act of attempting to rename our parks show just how out of touch the city council and the mayor’s office is with the needs and desires of the city’s residents and the patriots of America.  The city spitefully thumbed their noses at the people who attended the council meetings and in an act meant to defy the state of Tennessee and wishes of her own people, passed their vile and illegal resolutions to erase American history.

Yet the Sons of Confederate Veterans and the Citizens To Save Our Parks have thus far persevered. We have met the enemy and fought him with the zeal and courage your ancestors would have been proud of.  In the streets, in the halls of government, and in the court of law, in the media and across the globe, we have taken the fight to the unlawful tyrants and brought them to bay. Furthermore, we have done this with honor, integrity, sacrifice, and honesty that are a credit to all Southerners everywhere and especially to your organization.  The SCV camps & heritage preservation groups all across this country and around the world have watched our efforts and are proud of the stand we have taken.  We have a reputation as tenacious fighters!  Fear is not in our vocabulary!  Imagine the talk at city hall when we all said “Enough!  We will not stand by and endure this any longer!  The city has broken its own laws and the government acted as rulers and tyrants!  For our ancestors, for all American fighting men and women and for future generations, we stand in defiance and will not back down!”  They didn’t know what hit them!  They scrambled like burglars caught in the act trying to enact what they knew, or should have known, was illegal to start with, and despicable and unethical in the extreme.  We have won the first two court hearings, but our legal costs have mounted into the tens of thousands of dollars to fight for these parks.

The fight with these thieves and despots is not over, but by our steadfast attention to our duty we have already won!  We can hold our head high and truthfully say that we held true to the charge. When your grandchildren’s children go to Forrest Park, Confederate Park, and Jefferson Davis Park they will ask about how these parks came to be.  And their parents will lift up their heads and say: “Your great grandparents fought to preserve this history for you and your children.  When you see these parks, when you read their names, when you touch the monuments and the weapons they placed here.


Please join us in this fight of a lifetime to save our history.  Join the Citizens to Save Our Parks (no dues).  And please send a contribution — $100, $500, or $1000, or anything – to our Parks Defense Fund so that we may see this to victory.  You can also easily make a donation through PayPal at the Citizens website.http://www.citizenstosaveourparks.org/

CTSOP, PO Box 241875, Memphis, TN   38124

In the future, when people ask; “Did you fight to keep your Confederate History? ”You can tell them like true Southerners, and proudly, “We have done so!” Thank you.Lee Millar, spokesman, Sons of Confederate Veterans, Memphis

Yellow Journalism Alive and Well at Memphis Commercial Appeal

A recent article concerning a marker at Forrest Park in Memphis, written by Wendi C. Thomas of the Commercial Appeal, was recently published. Ms. Thomas obviously has some issues about the subject. Whatever happened to impartial reporting? Apparently, Ms. Thomas never got that memo when she was taking journalism classes. Her slant on this story is nothing less than offensive, in my opinion. The facts she cites are also inaccurate. I’m amazed that so much time, money and attention has been spent on trying to rename parks for the sake of political correctness, when Memphis has far bigger problems to worry about. Memphis is still ranked second nationwide for the most violent city. It is ranked third by Xfinity as the most miserable city, and their website states that “violent crime in Memphis ranks second highest among U.S. cities. Corruption by city officials has also proven to be an issue.” Shouldn’t this be a priority instead?

Ms. Thomas’ story is as follows. I’ll let you be the judge, and then feel free to post your opinions of the article. (BTW Ms. Thomas, “those stunned and disgusted that this debate continues,” are offended that Memphis City Council has the audacity to try to eradicate history, and descendants of these men are also “stunned and disgusted.”)

Memphis to sell Forrest Park Marker If Confederate group won’t reclaim it

By Wendi C. Thomas, March 7, 2014, Commercial Appeal

Don’t be surprised if you see an ad like this soon: For sale: One “Forrest Park” 1,000-pound, 10-foot granite marker.

Perfect for Civil War buffs or fans of the Klan’s first grand wizard. The original owner, the Sons of Confederate Veterans paid $9,000. Interested? Call the City of Memphis.

The stone tribute to Confederate general Nathan Bedford Forrest has languished in a Midtown storage shed since January 2013, when Memphis officials plucked it from the park that once bore Forrest’s name. Unless the SCV, which placed the stone without final approval, claims it soon, it’s headed to a city auction block.

“Either you come get your stuff or we’ll consider it surplus,” said George Little, the city’s chief administrative officer.

It’s the latest chapter in the continuing Southern drama, pitting those who still revere the era in which African-Americans were property and those stunned and disgusted that this debate continues. Recent developments include the marker’s removal in January 2013; the Memphis City Council’s decision to rename of three Confederate-themed city parks last February, which freed these green spaces from names that reflected fondly on an era when 63 percent of Memphians would have been enslaved; a March 2013 rally Downtown by the KKK to protest said name changes, for which the city and county spent $175,585 on public safety; and a new state law rushed through by Republicans (the party of less government intervention and more local control) last April, that strips cities of the authority to rename any war-themed parks.

The next showdown will come by June when the city plans to vacate the storage building next to Overton Park where the marker sits.

“We are in the process of discussions to locate the Eggleston photo museum on that parcel of land, as part of a longer term arrangement with the Overton Park Conservancy.” Little said. The goal is “to get as much of that park back to the natural state as possible.”

“We don’t want any-thing to hap-pen to it,” he said, but “we’re not taking it with us … If someone wants it as a yard marker, they’ll be welcome to it.”

More than once, the city has asked the SCV to take the marker, but spokesman Lee Millar wants city officials to put it back where they found it.

“We did NOT refuse its return,” Millar said by email. “We stated where it should be returned to: namely, its rightful place in Forrest Park.”

There’s only one problem with Millar’s demand, and it’s a big one: “There isn’t a Forrest Park to put it back in,” Little said.

The park at Union and Manassas near Downtown still features an equestrian statue of the slave trader and Forrest’s remains. But it’s called Health Sciences Park, in a nod to its location next to the medical school and the city’s aspirations to be known as a biomedical center.

Little understands the SCV’s motivations. “If they took the marker back, it might affect their case.”

That’s right: This is still the land of the free and the home of the litigious: The SCV has sued the city for the “theft” of the marker and parks’ renaming. Perhaps a detente could come through the award-winning movie based on an 1853 slave memoir. “If anyone wonders why they might find that marker offensive, go see ’12 Years a Slave’ and then come talk about it,” Little said.

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