After witnessing the anti-Southern hysteria that has metastasized throughout the media and government in recent weeks I felt a pressing need to do something proactive. Of course, it’s certainly not as if our societal overseers didn’t hate the South and any symbol of our unique identity before the murders that took place in Charleston occured, but they have since fully exploited the tragedy in order to launch an attempt to completely eradicate the Confederate flag and any memory of the righteous cause for which it stood. Their efforts have been particularly brutal and bloodthirsty in Memphis, where the local government unanimously passed a resolution to exhume the remains of General Nathan Bedford Forrest and his wife, as well as remove the monument that sits atop their graves. Not that it matters much, but Confederate Soldiers, Sailors and Marines who fought in The War of Northern Aggression were made U.S. Veterans by an act of Congress in in 1957, U.S. Public Law 85-425, Sec 410, which was approved on May 23, 1958. This made all Confederate Veterans equal to all U.S. Military Veterans, but I digress.
This shocking display of hatred could not go unanswered. In faithful service to the Confederate cavalry my great-great-great-grandfather rode with Forrest at Shiloh. Upon reading the news about their desire to desecrate the grave of an American hero his spirit reminded me of Forrest’s own admonition to, “Get there first with the most men.” I had organized rallies in Memphis before and was determined to do so again. But, rather than rush in haphazardly I thought it would be most prudent to reach out to other acquaintances with similar interests. As it turns out, a pro-Forrest rally was already being planned by other local activists and instead of having two competing events it just made more sense to join in line with those who had already laid some ground work and use the influence of my radio programto provide auxiliary support and assist them in turning out a much larger crowd. We should always concern ourselves first with providing results rather than getting full credit for something.
After receiving a copy of all the details I dutifully went to work. As soon as the local media found out that I was promoting the event I was inundated with requests to appear for interviews. I politely declined them all because this event was about Nathan Bedford Forrest. The last thing I wanted was to let my involvement overshadow the real story. Even yesterday at the event itself I adhered to this policy and kindly asked all reporters to talk with those who had assembled because they were the ones who made the gathering so wildly successful.
The media, however, was not the only entity to get in touch with me in recent days. Quite curiously, I was contacted late last week by a Detective with the Memphis Police Department’s branch of the Office of Homeland Security. He was very courteous, but conveyed to me that there had suddenly arisen a problem concerning the permit secured to hold the event. Apparently, DHS had been monitoring our “social media presence” and had surmised that we were due to turn out a much larger crowd than was originally expected. I was told in no uncertain terms to cease any further promotion of the event on my radio program and website. I was persuaded to comply.
Let me be clear when I say that I have a great deal of respect for the badge. My father worked as a police officer at one time before transferring to the fire department where he later retired as a Captain. The agent that I spoke to was very courteous, but I can’t help but wonder what really prompted their interest. Having done this before my experience is that obtaining a permit to hold a peaceful gathering at a public park is a mere formality. You file for the permit and you’re granted permission. As a citizen, you have the right to assemble on public property with no questions asked. To my knowledge, the only reason a permit is required at all is to ensure that other individuals or organizations aren’t planning a conflicting event at the same place / time.
After making a few calls and talking with other officials I was convinced that proper authority had been granted for the event to move forward. That’s not to say that DHS didn’t possess a bit of analytical prowess. Our own research confirmed that more than 200 people had shared my blurb about the rally to their Facebook pages. Based upon that fact and the number of e-mails I was receiving it did appear as though attendance was going to be high, but since there was no charge to come and no obligation to RSVP even we had no idea how many to expect.
By Sunday morning, the day of the festivities, I had no idea what to anticipate when I arrived at Forrest Park. I didn’t know if law enforcement was going to shut the event down, or if a flash mob was going to be present, or if I’d be met by only a handful of core supporters. Thankfully, none of this happened. There were officers on hand for security, but they were gracious and professional. There were also more than 100 people with Confederate flags on the ground an hour before the scheduled start time. By 2:00, a legitimate and conservative estimate had the crowd numbering upwards of 500. One person claimed it to be 600.
When I last spoke to the event organizers I was told that they were expecting a crowd of 150 people and that any additional folks that I could turn out would be appreciated. I’d say we answered the bell. I had the privilege of being approached by a seemingly endless stream of listeners, some of whom I had met before, but most of whom I had the honor of meeting for the first time. One young man told me that he drove more than ten hours just to be there. Several others had also come in from out of state. If I had been allowed to proceed unencumbered with my originally intended promotional campaign I certainly feel as though a crowd of 750 or even 1000 might have been attained.
Regardless, in today’s political climate to see that many men, women, and children make a public show of force was nothing short of inspirational. Furthermore, the caliber of people was top shelf. I talked with off-duty law enforcement officers, doctors, and business professionals from all walks of life, all either holding or wearing a Confederate flag. I felt as though they were all family and that’s why those who hate us can’t understand our unwillingness to abandon our customs and symbols. We are incapable of forgetting who we are. It’s personal.
The zeal of those of us in Memphis was determined, real, and unapologetic. Has the regime finally met some resistance? It would sure seem that way as the Southern uprising that erupted two weeks and has only strengthened in force since then. In recent days there have been nearly one hundred spontaneous Confederate flag rallies that have drawn tens of thousands of people from across the South.
Think 500 in Memphis was a nice crowd? While we were holding our rally almost five thousandpeople participated in the “Florida Southern Pride Ride,” according to police estimates. Events like this are happening all across Dixie and show no signs of slowing.
There’s a lot of bad news out there, but we must not let the media frame our perception. In addition to the grassroots rebellion we currently see rising up around us we must not lose sight of the fact that the Governor of Tennessee has issued an official proclamation declaring July 13, 2015, to be Nathan Bedford Forrest Day. And, while the flag came down in Columbia, South Carolina, it went up in Ocala, Florida, where the Marion County Commission voted unanimously on Tuesday to restore the Confederate flag at its governmental complex.
We should maintain hope that one day our people will turn and fight and we must find a way to channel this current energy into something sustainable, lest it become nothing more than a monetary recoil to the incessant attacks against our cultural heritage. If America is to reclaim her destiny, she must first look South. Until then, please enjoy some pictures that I took on Sunday. They are, after all, worth a thousand words.