Letters To The Editor
In a recent edition of the Williamsport Sun-Gazette Newspaper about a Civil War museum in Georgia closing because a county commissioner; Ms. Dee Clemmons (who in my opinion was wrong to do so) told them that they had to get rid of their Confederate flags. The Nash Farm Battlefield Museum has been visited by people from all 50 states and numerous countries, all wanting to know about the history of the Civil War.
While growing up I have experienced a lot of prejudice when living down south. But, having lived in the eastern panhandle in the middle of the battlefields as an adult, I learned a lot about the Civil War. I learned to respect both the Northern and the Southern parts in this famous war. The Confederate flag is part of that, as are many statues that are being taken down by different southern communities. One would think that these symbols of pride in this country should be preserved, not taken down or scorned.
Yes, I am from the North but I believe that there is no distinction between the North and the South, only what has been instilled in our minds! I know that there is just as much hatred up here as in the south, but these things can be overcome with respect and understanding. There is no room for hatred in this world, especially not when the country is in such an uproar. We need peace!
America the beautiful is just that, made so by the Men and Women who wanted to keep it that way. It would behoove the country to preserve everything historical.
I sincerely hope that the Nash Farm Battlefield Museum will reopen for all to enjoy and learn about our heritage. Ms. Clemmons should be made to apologize and the rest of the Commissioners to abolish these silly ideas about getting rid of so much history.
I was born and raised in Henry County. I grew up on Panola Road in Ellenwood where my family lived when the roads were dirt. There were about 8 houses on the entire street back then with no subdivisions, fire departments or civic enters in the area. Our water was furnished by a spring located on our property. We drove many miles to get groceries or gas. My sister, brother and myself all attended Fairview Elementary, Stockbridge Junior and Senior High and were very active in extra curriculum activities for the school. My grandmother was a cook at Fairview School and was known throughout the county for her cooking where employees from all over the county came to eat her food at Fairview because she didn’t follow the recipes and cooked “old school.” My parents were instrumental in getting the first volunteer fire department in Fairview and helped put out many fires in our area as well as countywide. They were also founding members of the Fairview Civic Club and worked countless hours to raise funds for the community thru annual Bar-B-Ques, every Friday night Bingos, Pancake breakfasts, etc. My dad served on various boards within the county including the Water Authority and the Election Board. He was not always the “liked or favorite “ person on the board as he made tough decisions for the betterment of the county and put the county before his own personal gain. He made some enemies, lost some friends but helped to build a county that has the purest water in the state. HCWA won several awards for their quality of water and my dad was instrumental in that accomplishment. I, alongside my dad, also worked in almost every election as a poll official of some sort either at the county office or in a polling place, worked on several campaigns for folks who became commissioners, helped open two different schools and ran fundraising for those schools as a parent volunteer. We are deeply rooted in Henry County.
A few years ago I left my beloved county to help open a branch office of an Atlanta law firm. More recently, I have returned to care for my parents who are now 89 and 90 with my mom in home hospice. As I have looked for homes in the county I grew up in, I notice all the changes, the growth, the crime, the farms now subdivisions (my old home place is now Waverly Place on Panola Road), the stores and the restaurants. I was excited to see the county had preserved some of our county and its history.
Recently, I visited the Nash Farms Battlefield and saw the beautiful grounds and the museum. I carefully read the history of this piece of property and the role it played in our history. I cried as I reflected on the men who gave their lives for others and for a cause they believed in, felt passionate about, and lived. I thought about the blood shed on this hallowed ground. As the wind gently blew the flags and rustled threw the trees I felt a sense of peace there. The administration of this county obviously saw this property as a valuable piece of history as well. They felt the need to preserve and maintain it as a historical landmark so they invested in it a few years ago. The museum has entertained guests from all over the country, all 50 states, and even from foreign countries. They came because of the historical facts not to walk in a park. What a great accomplishment for my hometown to achieve!
It makes me so sad to see our county in the news for such unbelievable acts of one commissioner. Ms. Clemmons not only overstepped her authority as a commissioner but she also ordered the removal of historical artifacts. Although the board or Ms. Clemmons did not “specifically order the museum to close” she did order parts of the museum to be removed thus causing Henry County and its BOC to represent false historical facts leaving the curator no other choice but to close. All of this could have been handled had Ms. Clemmons followed the rules of conduct of a commissioner, had she not let her personal feelings interfere with her job as a commissioner, and had she not used racism in her decision. She has brought shame and ugliness to our once great county and has spread it through her continued actions of not owning her mistakes or lying about her decisions and orders. She wants to pretend the battles here never happened because her insecurities and feeling of inadequacies overshadow the truth. The flag of the Confederacy is only offensive to people who allow it to be offensive. To people who have other issues they have not dealt with. It is the battle flag of the South, just as the North had their flag; the South had their flag. Flags do not make people racist, they do not make people feel uncomfortable or offend folks. People with those racist feelings do that. If Ms. Clemmons knew her history (especially the history of Henry County, the county she represents) she would know and understand these things. She also wants to change the name of the Battlefield to Park. This is another attempt to try and change history, acting as if the men (black and white) who fought over this land, who shed their blood on this property never existed.
Changing Nash Farms Battlefield into a park will not encourage the kids or adults of Henry County to become healthier as Ms. Clemmons attempts to try and sway folks with her video. People have to choose a healthy lifestyle and our county already has other parks, recreation centers, and gyms all over the place but we only have one Battlefield. If Ms. Clemmons doesn’t find it to be a comfortable place for her then maybe she can have her parties, work out sessions, or picnics in one of the many other locations throughout the county. She doesn’t have to try to erase a part of history that many others are proud of and many died for. No one can control who or what group decides to use a symbol (flag). But because a group that some people don’t agree with choose a flag to use or represent them, that doesn’t make the flag wrong. The flag never did anything. The only thing wrong is the people who allow a flag to “offend” them. A group, not a flag, offends them. That needs to be made very clear.
Think for a moment what the situation would be like if a group of people objected to the Tuskegee Airman display that is in a “county museum” in McDonough because they felt it was offensive. What if people started a campaign to remove all the street signs and other things that have been changed to honor MLK because they were offensive to them? If Ms. Clemmons is allowed to act on her own behalf without any approval of a vote from the board or the voice of the majority of people, then another commissioner could do the same for the items I mentioned. Hopefully, none of these things will happen to the history or the heritage that these items represent. People worked tirelessly to make these things public and to honor people that played a part of our history. This is the same for the Confederate flag and its place in our history as well. Hopefully the commissioners will see that a precedent will be set if Ms. Clemmons is allowed to continue her desire to erase the history of Nash Farm Battlefield.
I sincerely hope that BOC Chair June Wood will “reel Ms. Clemmons in” from her embarrassing behavior to our county. I ask for the resignation of Ms. Clemmons as she is not the leader she presented herself to be. At the very least, I believe that Ms. Clemmons needs to “get her own house in order” if she is going to represent the citizens of Henry County.