Madison County Opinion...

JULY 16, 2003


Column
By Frank Gillespie
The Madison County Journal
July 16, 2003

Frankly Speaking
Why Fyock was wrong about Confederate memorial
A letter last week from Rick Fyock attacking the new Confederate memorial in Colbert deserves a detailed response. Nearly every sentence in the letter contained errors of fact or perception. Here are a few of his statements and why they were wrong.
Let me make it clear that I am an officer of the Madison County Greys, Sons of Confederate Veterans, and one of those responsible for erecting the monument.
After objecting to the erection of the new monument he railed: “It was almost more than I could take when I went to the Fourth of July celebration and those racially divisive flags were flying.” The Confederate monument has five flag polls. The flags fly only on special occasions, and the selection of flags that fly reflects the occasion. On the 4th of July, the center flag was the first version of the Stars and Stripes, the Betsy Ross flag. The two outside flags were variations on the first flag of rebellion used in the U.S. Revolution, a rattle snake with the slogan “Don’t Tread on Me.” Those flags were based on an idea first expressed by Benjamin Franklin. The other two flags were the 1956 Georgia flag that has been endorsed by 85 percent of Madison County’s voters in a previous referendum, and the Third National flag of the Confederate States of America. I suppose that Mr. Fyock was limiting his criticism to the last two flags. I hope he didn’t intend to call America’s revolutionary Flags as “racially divisive.
Fyock continued: “But why on the Fourth of July, Independence Day, did people have to think we in Colbert romanticized a war where people took up arms against the United States of America for the main reason that they thought a large percentage of their population should be slaves . . ..?”
This statement has two major errors. First, the Confederacy did not take up arms against the United States of America. The Confederacy did not want a war, they simply wanted to be left alone. It was the Lincoln Administration that called for troops to invade and conquer the free and independent nation of the Confederate States of America.
Secondly, the main reason for the Confederacy’s existence was not to preserve slavery. Lincoln himself said that he had no intention to interfere with slavery where it existed. The United States Congress passed and sent to the states a Constitutional Amendment that would have prevented any future amendments from interfering with slavery. The Kansas Nebraska Act, the Fugitive Slave Act and the Dred Scott Decision by the U.S. Supreme Court made it clear that slavery under the United States constitution was fully protected. Since it takes three fourths of the states to ratify any amendment that would have ended slavery, and 15 of the then 34 states held slaves, it was obvious that they could keep slavery as long as they wanted it. Clearly, if the purpose of the South was to preserve slavery, they would have remained in the union.
“Why on the 4th of July?” What better day to celebrate the effort to restore the American Revolution? Displaying Confederate icons at Independence Day ceremonies is fully appropriate. After all, the Confederacy’s primary cause was the restoration of the American Revolution.
By the early 1800s, the northern radical politicians and their industrial Robber Barron cohorts had hijacked the young federal government and used it to impose a massive tariff on manufactured goods. The tax fell primarily on the agricultural South. The Southern States paid up to 80 percent of all federal taxes. At the same time, the majority of federal spending went to the northeast.
When the Radicals and Robber Barons solidified their hold on the federal government in the 1860 elections, they proceeded to carry out their promise of greatly increasing these taxes. The South felt it had to exercise the constitutional right of secession to stop the raid on its economy. Lincoln then raised an army and attacked the newly formed Confederate nation in order to preserve his tax source, virtually the same direct cause that launched the American Revolution.
The Confederacy never wanted war. They fought only in self defense, and to recover the principles of the American Revolution.
Finally Mr. Fyock was confused by the failure of Madison County’s black citizens to object to the “insult” of the monument. I will make his confusion even greater by revealing that a black stone cutter assisted in carving and installing the monument.
As an officer of the Madison County Greys, I extend an invitation to Mr. Fyock and any other “progressives” to attend our next meeting on Monday, July 25, were they will be given an opportunity to debate our membership on this subject. We meet at the Colbert Depot, across from the monument at 7:30 p.m. The public is also invited.
Frank Gillispie is founder of The Madison County Journal. His web page can be accessed at www.mcga.net. His e-mail address is frankg@mcga.net.

Column
By Ben Munro
The Madison County Journal
July 16, 2003

In Other Words
Excuse me, while I kiss the sky’
“Excuse me, while I kiss the sky,” Jimi Hendrix once declared. But no thank you, I’ll keep my feet firmly planted on the ground.
Hendrix’s famous lyric from “Purple Haze” wasn’t exactly humming through my head while traveling 30,000 feet above the ground at 500 mph in a jet this past fourth of July on my way towards Chicago.
Instead, Black Sabbath’s “Paranoid” would be the fitting song for the backdrop of what was my first ride on a commercial plane. (OK, I flew from New Orleans to Atlanta in 1982 but can you really count what you don’t remember?)
I’m not ashamed to say I suffer from aviophobia.
The fear of flying is a very real stigma and preaching to us the simple facts and figures of airline safety produces no prozac-like serenity.
Yes, we know that the drive to the airport is 100 times more the death defying stunt than the flight. Yes, we know a plane crash is as common as an alligator attack. Yes, we know if one does crash, its so rare that it will one day be retold in a based-on-a-true-story movie on NBC.
We all know this and yet we still liken air travel to tight rope walking Tallulah Gorge or bungy jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge using dental floss.
Simply blame it on that irrational but persuasive hunch that tells us that hurdling through space at 30,000 feet in the air is just not the safest place to be.
But sometimes we do things anyway.
I arrived an hour early to concourse B11 at Hartsfield last Friday for my moment of truth and it was with that errie sixth sense that I clutched my plane ticket, wondering if the words and numbers “Delta Flight 754” would one day live in infamy.
The moment almost seemed surreal as I had 60 minutes before my flight to Chicago (I was on my way to see my brother who has an internship there) to ponder the future of my existence.
Melodramatic, yes, to those of you who are frequent flyers, but you’ve got to understand what’s in the head of someone who once pondered driving to Maine so he wouldn’t have to fly.
The expression on my face to an on-looker had to mirror that of a man who’d had been handed down a death sentence and his judgment hour was slowly nearing — 11:15, 11:30, 11:45, 11:55, 11:56, 11:57, 11:58 the clock ticked.
A lifetime later, it was high noon.
Just as I was going to turn my cellular phone off and board, I received a call from a friend.
After finishing the conversation, I hung up and wondered if she’d be the last person I’d ever talk to.
I handed my plane ticket over and entered the cabin and within minutes I heard the loud thud of the door closing. I saw the tunnel that connects the plane to the terminal slowly drift away, like we were being lost out at sea.
“It’s too late now,” I told myself in my 24th year and 218th day of life.
The emotional mix I experienced as the jet barreled down the runway at 180 mph and finally glided away was an unusual concoction — shots of fear stirred with a dash of excitement.
As the plane rose to kiss the sky, a peak out of my window revealed that I was eye-level with a cloud.
So this is what poet John Gillespie Magee meant by “slipping the surly bonds of earth” I thought to myself.
A complimentary pack of pretzels and a half-hour episode of “Friends” (I usually hate that show) helped to calm my nerves as the plane bounced about the turbulence in the sky.
Then about an hour and five minutes into the flight, the captain chimed in and I expected the worst.
What would it be? Failed engine, shoddy land landing gear?
Strangely, all he told us was that’d we’d been cleared to land at Chicago’s Midland Airport.
Already?
Before I knew it, I was back on Earth and filing out of this bus with wings.
I passed by the captain, who looked like he’d just drove down the block to get a gallon of milk rather than flown a jet 800 miles. I thanked him for the ride, happy that Delta 754 would be just another flight in the computer, and stepped back on to the earth.
Excuse me, while I kiss the ground.
Ben Munro is a reporter for the Madison County Journal and Commerce News.

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