My Encounter With the Virginia Flaggers

The Flaggers have been huffing and puffing for months about my scheduled visit to Petersburg for the 150th anniversary of the Crater. I didn’t really know what to expect, but I was flattered that they thought me “flag” worthy.

On Wednesday morning I arrived at the battlefield early in time to commemorate the explosion of the mine. Roughly 250 people attended. Opening remarks were shared at the crater site, which was to be followed by a tour through the battlefield. In between these opening remarks and the tour the Flaggers strutted on to the battlefield. The entire crew was there, including Tripp Lewis, Grayson Jennings and even the queen bee herself, Susan Hathaway.

It’s kind of like watching the circus come to town. One guy just did a couple of loops around the crater with his flag, but eventually they locked their sights on me. I was walking with a good friend from the Museum of the Confederacy, who I haven’t seen in a couple of years and as we were talking about four or five Flaggers closed in and pretty much surrounded us. I was thoroughly amused by this. My friend exchanged a few words with Jennings, but that was about it. Apparently, this was intended to be understood as a form of intimidation, but all I could muster was a chuckle.

I walked to the first station for the morning tour and that was the last I saw of the Flaggers that day. Not one took part in this tour, which for the first time took visitors into the adjacent woods to explore the earthworks of the North Carolinians and the area where William Mahone’s division organized for its famous counterattack. It’s a reminder that the Flaggers really have no interest in history. Once the crowds made their way to the first station on the tour the Flaggers had no reason to stick around since they were no longer the center of attention.

Given that so many turned out on Wednesday I was certain that the crew would attend my talk last night in downtown Petersburg. Unfortunately, only Grayson Jennings attended. He sat quietly throughout my talk. With C-SPAN in the house I assumed that I would get at least one question from one of the most vocal and colorful Flaggers. What better opportunity to take me down in front of the National Park Service, the audience, and the general public. Nothing. I am left having to assume that Mr. Jennings didn’t have any problem with the content of my talk or he just didn’t have the courage to speak up. I have little doubt that he is now spewing forth about my talk on some website, but when it counted Mr. Jennings failed to deliver.

Between Wednesday and Friday I drove on I-95 three time. At no point was I able to see the large Confederate flag that the Flaggers dedicated last fall. Finally, I asked for the specific mile marker and made it a point to look for it while driving to the airport earlier today. It really is a pathetic sight. The flag was hanging limp today, but what is so striking is how easy it is to miss even when you are making a conscious effort to locate it. In my mind that pretty much sums up this entire group.

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16 comments… add one

  • Rob Baker Aug 2, 2014

    One of fears is that a sleuth of these attention seekers will appear in Ringgold as the current flag dispute drags on. Oh happy day.

    • Kevin Levin Aug 2, 2014

      The Flaggers are honestly not a problem. They go through their little routine of passing out little Confederate flags, but that’s about it. From what I could tell they don’t really have anything substantive to offer.

  • Mike Rogers Aug 2, 2014

    You shouldn’t insult the circus like that :-)

  • Kevin Dally Aug 2, 2014

    “Wednesday morning I arrived at the battlefield early in time to commemorate the explosion of the mine.”
    THAT says it all, “to COMMEMORATE”…The Flaggers…nothing but petty in-your-face tactics with a symbol they claim to honor?

    • Kevin Levin Aug 2, 2014

      It’s not as if there has been a shortage of Confederate flags on the battlefield. There was a fairly large group of Confederates reenactors on the battlefield today who took part in a carefully choreographed reenactment. There were plenty of flags in their camp. The Flaggers bring them in without any historical context at all.

  • Donald R. Shaffer Aug 2, 2014

    Another classic example of how it is easy to loath a person from a far, but quite different when you have to confront them in person. It reminds me of when Hugo Chavez and George W. Bush were part of a group of world leaders milling around the UN in New York. They obviously loathed each other but there was no nasty confrontation even though they came within a few feet of each other several times. They just ignored each other, although at some point Bush supposedly looked in Chavez’s direction and said “Be nice.” Chavez continued ignoring him.

  • Al Mackey Aug 2, 2014

    They didn’t say “Welcome back to Virginia, Kevin?” Where are their manners? Probably the same place as their knowledge of history–nonexistent.

  • Jimmy Dick Aug 2, 2014

    I would venture that Grayson didn’t want to get ridiculed on television. As for the flagging, I’d say you are correct. History is unimportant to that group. They just want their attention and when they don’t get it they wander off. Did Tripp have his shades on and a child around to embarrass? You should have asked Susan very loudly if she knew where a certain kidnapped child was.

    • Kevin Levin Aug 3, 2014

      Unfortunately, Tripp Lewis was not wearing his sunglasses – slightly less intimidating without them. :-)

  • Robert Mark Aug 2, 2014

    As might be said, ‘perhaps their interest is simply flagging.’

  • Josephine Bass Aug 2, 2014

    Mean spirited kevin levin as always. Pure meanness in all your blog post from others as well; you have nobody with any decency at all in your corner. As for the fellow from OUR Museum of the Confederacy, since he associates with you I wonder about him, perhaps they were Flagging him and not you Mr. Smarty Pants!.

    • Kevin Levin Aug 3, 2014

      Thanks, Josephine. I would like to think that I am higher on their list than my friend from the MOC. Be well.

  • Trueism Aug 3, 2014

    Your quote

    “It really is a pathetic sight. The flag was hanging limp today, but what is so striking is how easy it is to miss even when you are making a conscious effort to locate it. In my mind that pretty much sums up this entire group.”

    In fact does sum up the flaggers and their rationality.

  • Keith Harris Aug 3, 2014

    These guys had a GOLDEN opportunity to let you have it and they dropped the ball. What a bunch of grade-A wankers. I would have a little respect for them had they tried to take you to task. But alas…

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