Madison County Opinion...

FEBRUARY 12, 2003

By Frank Gillespie
The Madison County Journal
February 12, 2003

Frankly Speaking
Rush to judgment
We are already hearing from the conspiracy theorists about the Columbia crash. They note that the crash was three days after the anniversary of the Challenger explosion and that Israel’s first astronaut was on board. They immediately declared the disaster to be the work of Muslim terrorists.
There is no evidence to support this theory. The degree of security surrounding the flight makes it unlikely that the craft was sabotaged. The height and speed of the vehicle at the time of the accident makes it impossible for any external attack to reach it. The only basis for the terrorism theory is the coincidence of time and history.
The same argument is being used by the attackers of the 1956 Georgia flag. They insist that the Confederate battle flag was added to the state flag in opposition to the civil rights movement. They proclaim the flag to be a racist symbol that should not be allowed to fly. Again, they have no real evidence to support their claims.
Many people have combed the archives of local newspapers, the record of the state legislature, speeches and statements by state leaders of the time, and none of them contains any suggestion that the change was in response to the push for integration.
Don’t forget that all politicians of that era were segregationists. They had to be to get elected. This was the same era in which George Wallace stood in the school house door and declared “segregation forever.” If preserving segregation was the purpose of the flag change, they would have clearly said so.
Even those who opposed the change in 1956 never made that charge. There was active opposition from a Confederate society, the United Daughters of the Confederacy. They actively campaigned to retain the previous flag that was based on the First National Flag of the Confederacy. It was the emblem they used to identify their organization. Nowhere is there any evidence that their opposition was based on any claim of racism.
The centennial of the Confederacy, and the war resulting in its formation was rapidly approaching in 1965. The last few veterans of the war were rapidly passing on. President Eisenhower issued a proclamation urging Americans to prepare memorials and programs to commemorate the event. Many states, cities and private organizations proceeded to make such plans. Many programs were organized. Many new monuments were constructed and installed in both northern and southern states. The Georgia legislature installed the soldier’s emblem, the Confederate Battle Flag, on the state flag as a memorial to those veterans.
Two things happening at the same time cannot be used to prove any cause and effect, and that is the only evidence the flag haters can produce. No one can accurately claim that the Columbia disaster was terrorism because of it occurred on the anniversary of the Challenger explosion. Nor can they accurately prove any connection between the 1956 Georgia flag and racism.
We need a flag debate on the facts, just the facts. If we can achieve that, the flag supporters will prevail, and the flag haters will have to sit down and shut up.
Frank Gillispie is founder of The Madison County Journal. His web page can be accessed at His e-mail address is

By Margie Richards
The Madison County Journal
February 12, 2003

A Moment With Margie
Georgia guidestones
Out in a field off Hwy. 77 in Elbert County stands a bunch of granite stones.
Now, I agree a bunch of granite stones in Elbert County, “granite capital of the world” is nothing to write about. But these stones are unique; in fact the 19-foot stones are sometimes referred to as “America’s Stonehenge.”
Like the stones of England’s Stonehenge, the rectangular slabs are aligned astronomically. The central rectangular stone is circled by four smaller stones that are arranged like “spokes on a wagon wheel.” A smaller stone sits atop the monument. It’s possible, according to the book, “Touring the Backroads of North and South Georgia,” to site the summer and winter solstice as well as the spring and fall equinox using a narrow slit through the central stone.
The most startling thing to me about the stones, besides the fact that it’s uncertain who had them placed there, is the fact that there are verses or “maxims” translated into English, Russian, Hebrew, Arabic, Hindu, Chinese, Spanish, - even Swahili - carved into the stones in four-inch-tall characters. The verses read: “Maintain humanity under 500,000,000 in perpetual balance with nature
Guide reproduction wisely - improving fitness and diversity
Unite humanity with a living new language
Rule passion - faith - tradition and all things with tempered reason
Protect people and nations with fair laws and just courts
Let all nations rule internally resolving external disputes in a world court
Avoid petty laws and useless officials
Balance personal rights with social duties
Prize truth - beauty - love - seeking harmony with the infinite
Be not a cancer on the earth - leave room for nature - leave room for nature”
Though the authors of the book say the creation of these guidestones is well-documented, those responsible for them is still a mystery.
In 1979, a local banker by the name of Wyatt Martin met with a man who said his name was Robert C. Christian. “Christian” who later admitted the name was a pseudonym, had earlier contacted the Elberton Granite Finishing Company about purchasing a memorial, saying he represented a group of out-of-state supporters whom he described as “loyal Americans who wish to leave a message for future generations.”
Martin agreed to set up an escrow account for the project, vowing to take the secret of who backed it “to his grave.”
Although I’ve lived her all my life, I don’t recall ever hearing about these stones. But I know one thing, now that I do know about them, I plan to make the short trip soon to see them firsthand.
Margie Richards is a reporter and office manager for the Madison County Journal.

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