Saturday, January 24, 2015

Flagging Report: An Interesting Video Interview

My day started at mid-morning. Spouse and I attended a fundraiser fish fry for a local school's softball team. Late January isn't softball season, and it was cold and windy for the game, but the fish, baked beans, cole slaw and hush puppies were delish, and fortified me for the afternoon's flagging.

Brilliant sunshine and a blue sky made for a great flagging backdrop, but foot traffic on lower Palafox was diminished somewhat, possibly due to the strong, chilly wind. Nevertheless, we had several passersby stop to take our hand-out and engage in brief chats.

As before, nobody agreed with the county's actions, and many did not understand the reason for the flag removal. "Except for political correctness," one gentleman offered, and we heartily agreed.

Our explanations went something like this. "They wanted to remove the Confederate battle flag from the display, but the French, British and Spanish flags all came down, as well.  It seems like overkill, especially when all that was necessary was to replace the battle flag with this one." This explanation usually brought forth questions as to what flag "this one" was.

"This is the First National flag of the Confederacy, called the Stars and Bars. This is the one used by the city in their Five Flags displays. We don't see any reason why the county can't use it, as well."

"I agree!" "Good luck," and "Hope you're successful!" were the kind of remarks we heard when our conversations ended and people went on their way.

We met a crew of four young men shooting video for a documentary that is to be put into a time capsule for future generations to view. Videos being shot around the country will be in competition for a spot in the time capsule, to be opened fifty years hence. The contest is being held in conjunction with the movie Interstellar, and the winning documentary will also be shown at the premier of that movie. 

They asked out our flagging, and I explained about the county's removal of the flags, and our support for Confederate heritage. "It is under attack. Most Southern culture is not under attack. Nobody's crusading against red beans and rice or magnolias. But Confederate heritage is the target of a campaign of political correctness."

One of the young men asked if I would like to be interviewed for the documentary, and I agreed. I was told I would have to sign a model release. I said I was familiar with model releases, as I used to shoot video and had to get signed releases from participants.

While one man operated the camera, another asked me questions, about ten in all.  It was an interesting experience. When the videotaping was over, they posed for a quick photo, I wished them luck with their documentary, they wished us luck with getting the flags returned, and went on their way.

The more we flag, the more convinced I am that the county made a critical error in removing the flags. I look forward to the day they are returned. In the meantime, we can use their mistake to educate folks about the Confederacy, and the unique heritage and legacy handed down by our civil war era ancestors.

Next flagging -- Wednesday, January 28, from 1 to 3.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Flagging Report: Lady Liberty (Two of Them!) Pay Us Visit

Good day on the sidewalk Wednesday -- several good conversations, people stopping to chat, to learn about Confederate flags, and to express their thoughts and feelings about the removal of four of the Five Flags from the Pensascola Bay Center.

Although we are flagging the county to encourage the return of the Five Flags with the First National "Stars and Bars" representing the Confederacy, we are a Confederate heritage group and we enjoy taking advantage of the opportunity to educate about other Confederate flags, and other aspects of the Confederacy and the War Between the States, as well

Thus, one West Florida Flagger brings his unique 1st and 3rd Florida Infantry Flag. Here's an image of the original, found on Wikipedia.

We did have a brief encounter with a gentleman who expressed disapproval of the Confederate battle flag, but we explained we aren't picketing to have it returned to the civic center display. We are ready to defend the battle flag from the ongoing campaign against it, but this particular issue in our city and county involves the display of national flags. Everyone else who stopped to chat and take one of our handouts were matter of fact in their support of returning the flags to their display.

More than once, the Virginia Flaggers have said, "Flagging is fun!" and so it is! Yesterday, a small group of middle school students visited the sidewalk on a field trip, made photos of the historic clock on the grounds of the Old Courthouse (and snapped a few photos of us) on their smart phones.

We were also visited by two lovely young Statues of Liberty giving away holders for soft drinks (some with candy inside!) advertising a tax return preparation service. They also would like to see the flags returned to their display on county property.

Rumor has it that the county commissioners have learned that we are here and we flag!

Next appointment on the sidewalk -- Saturday, January 24, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Lee Jackson Day and Flagging on the Sidewalk

The West Florida Flaggers extend our thanks to Stephen R. Mallory Camp 1315, SCV, for inviting us to their Lee Jackson Banquet on Saturday, January 17.

Franco's Italian Restaurant was closed to the public for the event. A color guard in period attire presented the colors prior to the program, after which John Appleyard, a local historian, gave the gathering the fascinating backstory of General Lee prior to the war. At the end of the program, camp members with lighted candles stepped through the dining room, lighting the tea candles at each place setting, and attendees named their Confederate ancestor memoralized by the candles.

I'm no public speaker, even in a situation like that, and I mis-identifed my ancestor, Private Balus Brackett, Georgia, Infantry, as my gg-grandfather. In fact, he was a gg uncle. His outfit was Company I, 39th Regiment, Georgia Volunteer Infantry, Army of Tennessee, C.S.A. Gilmer County, Georgia, "Gilmer Tigers #2" Joined the Confederate Army March 4, 1862. Fought in the Battle of Corinth, Miss, October 3-4, 1862

When the candle-lighting was over, I slipped out. I could possibly have stayed until the end of the event, as there wasn't much left on the program. But I had to get downtown to flag.

Lee and Jackson at the head table; larger pictures of the two great generals were on display in the restaurant entrance
Food, flags and fellowship.

Listening to the presentation on General Lee.
Lighting a candle and ringing a bell to remember brave Confederate ancestors.
It was the best day yet for flagging -- brilliant sunshine, little breeze and chilly, not cold, temps. But the best thing were a couple of conversations we had with people on the sidewalk.

One young fellow, a native of Louisiana who has lived in Pensacola the past seven years, was in adamant agreement that the county commission needed to restore the Five Flags at the civic center. We had a long conversation with him and found a lot of common ground. He thinks the loss of tradition and heritage in the U.S. accompanies the diminishing of freedom.

We also had an interesting conversation with a trio of seniors who were strongly in support of restoring the flags. Like so many people, their reasoning was, "It's our history." They listened when we explained that, while we are primarily a Confederate heritage advocates, in this case, we support the restoration of all the historic flags.

The gentleman took one of our hand-outs and thanked us, and he and one of the women accompanying him strolled down the street, but the other woman stayed to chat with us a bit longer. She was unfamiliar with the First National, and seemed fascinated to learn about the three national flags of the CSA.

I'm truly surprised by the amount of support for returning the Five Flags to the civic center, and the interest in Confederate history.

Connie Chastain
West Florida Flaggers

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Flagging Report: Flagging Without Hand-outs

Flagging -- without handouts. (Photo by S.H.)
It was a good day for flagging, if a bit chilly -- but opportunities were missed because I forgot to bring our hand-outs! 

Nevertheless, we interacted with passers-by, informing them we were flagging the county commissioners to urge them to return the historic Five Flags to the Pensacola Bay Center.

One lady pointed to my flag and said, "I don't recognize that."

"It's the First National flag of the Confederacy."

"Oh, that's interesting!"

Another gentleman told us what flag I was displaying: "That's the First Flag of the Confederate States."

"Yes, sir, the Stars and Bars."

"There were two others after that one."

"The Stainless Banner and the Third National."

"When you say Confederate flag, a lot of people think of the flag on the roof of the General Lee. But that was a battle flag."

"Yes, the soldiers' flag."

After a bit more chatting in the same vein, he wished us well and continued on his way.

Another lady, when told about the flags removed from the Pensacola Bay Center, said, "Oh, that's right, I heard about that." She said she didn't understand why the commissioners removed the flags.

One man said the people should vote on whether to return the flags. This echoed parts of a very interesting and informative "Viewpoint" letter to the editor by Christopher J. Lewis that appeared recently in the Pensacola News Journal:

As before, everyone we encountered on the sidewalk was cordial and motorists and their passengers often gave us friendly waves.

Next flagging is tentatively scheduled for Saturday, January 17 -- with hand-outs this time.

Connie Chastain      
West Florida Flaggers      

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Flagging Report: Saturday on the Sidewalk

It wasn't as cold or bright as our last flagging, but an occasional breeze brought our flags to life several times during the afternoon.

Foot traffic on the sidewalk was pretty busy. A few passersby were visitors to the city, and we welcomed them and hoped they enjoyed their visits. Locals ran the gamut -- many lively seniors headed for the coffee shops and cafes north and south of our position in front of the Old Courthouse. Not as many young folks, but still quite a few -- and more than half a dozen canines of all sizes, shapes, colors and types of fur.

Auby Smith, Commander, Stephen Mallory Camp 1315, SCV
When the opportunity presented itself, we explained, "We're picketing the county to return the Five Flags to the civic center. Can't have the City of Five Flags without them!" Responses ranged from tilted heads and comments like, "I think I remember reading about that," to enthusiastic nods of agreement. "It's our history!"

Almost an hour into the flagging, Auby Smith, Commander of the Stephen R. Mallory Camp 1315, Sons of Confederate Veterans, stopped by to thank us and to invite us to the camp's upcoming Lee Jackson dinner.

It was a pleasure to meet and talk with him and we look forward to a great relationship with the Camp.

All of the people we encountered -- visitors and locals alike -- were friendly and we were glad so many were familiar with the county flag-removal issue. Hopefully, as we continue flagging, we will acquiant more people not only with the current flag issue, but with Pensacola's Confederate history and the soldiers who fought so valiantly and gave so much to defend their homes, families and communities, and their new nation.

Connie Chastain      
West Florida Flaggers      

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Flagging Report: Clear and Brisk in the Sunshine State

Two intrepid flaggers from Pensacola braved the wind slicing down Palafox Place to stand with flags snapping in front of the old county courthouse complex on Wednesday, January 7.

The sky was a beautiful, cloudless backdrop for the flags, the sunshine bright, and when the wind wasn't blowing the chill abated considerably.

I was surprised that the area wasn't as busy as it was on Christmas Eve.  While we got a few waves from passing motorists, the sidewalk actually seemed busier, with people strolling by at a leisurely pace.

"Hi. Y'all live in Pensacola?"

The majority of the time, the answer to that question was, "No."

"In that case, you enjoy your visit!"


A few local people, though, paused to chat with us about the county's removal of the historic five flags from the Pensacola Bay Center. The consensus was that the county commission's actions were overkill, and a show of disrespect for the city's history.

We heard "political correctness" in these conversations more than once.

One young man from Pensacola but not currently residing here, said his family's residence in the city goes back a couple of generations, and he feels a great connection to the city's history.

We have yet to hear anyone say they agree with the county's move.

If you reside in the area, or are planning to visit and would like to send a message to the county commissioners to return the flags, visit our Facebook page for info on flagging dates and times.

Connie Chastain        
West Florida Flaggers