Praise and lament mix on third anniversary of Confederate flag removal

Praise and lament mix on third anniversary of Confederate flag removal

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - It's been three years since the South Carolina legislature passed the bill to take down the Confederate flag from State House property; on this anniversary of removal, South Carolina Secessionists again rallied against it while those who were instrumental in making happen reflected in pride.

People are reflecting the historic day and the symbolism of that move to the museum.

The removal of the flag from Capitol grounds is a symbol of progress to Civil Rights activist Jim Felder.

"It was a symbol that said, 'We still don't want you here. We still think that you are more inferior than we are. We were right about the Civil War,'" Felder said. It conjures up all those kinds of thoughts," Felder remarked on the third anniversary of the takedown. 

To others, the flag meant something different. James Bessenger felt it was heritage taken down and that his secessionist group was slighted by lawmakers. 

"Confederate soldiers fought because they thought they were defending their homes and their independence. We do it now," Bessenger said. 

But the lawmakers instrumental in the removal have few regrets, only that it took the tragic Charleston church shooting at Emanuel A.M.E. for the removal to happen. 

"We're Americans first, and then we're South Carolinians. And that's why I think we have those two flags that represent us. And there's really no room for any other type of flag to represent us as a whole," Rep. Russell Ott (D- Calhoun) said. 

Ott was part of the effort to craft a compromise and kill amendments to the bill for the flag removal that some offered as a way to keep the Senate from voting the bill to pass. 

It was Sen. Vincent Sheheen who sponsored the bill in the first place. He only imagines today what his seatmate, the late Sen. Clementa Pinckney, would have thought of the removal. Pinckney was among the nine shooting victims. 

"He would have looked down and been happy to see forward progress, but he loved those eight people in that church and he would have never thought it was worth the price," Sheheen said. 

The flag is now being stored at the South Carolina Confederate Relic Room and Military Museum. Lawmakers didn't approve the funding to pay for the museum's $350,000 plan for an exhibit, so Director Allen Roberson says he will display it as best he can in the next few months.

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