Restore the Honor, Remove the Flaggers

Yesterday my wife and I stopped briefly at the Pelham Chapel in Richmond, which is the site of the ongoing protest by a group that styles itself, the Virginia Flaggers.  As many of you know their protest is focused on the recent removal of Confederate flags from outside the chapel itself.  I was hoping to see some Flaggers in action, but in the end I am glad that they decided to take the day off.  For the first time in my many visits the chapel was actually open.  We weren’t able to spend too much time, but it is an impressive little building. 

It’s hard not to walk through without thinking of the Confederate veterans who spent their later years on the grounds that made up the R.E. Lee Camp Soldiers Home.  For those who had no families or suffered from wartime wounds – both physical and mental – the home likely served as a place of comfort.  The interior of the chapel leaves no doubt that the service of these men was something that the surrounding community continued to commemorate and celebrate.  It’s a wonderful place to highlight the Lost Cause through the relationship between the survivors and the broader community.

None of this comes through in the continued protest by the Flaggers.  In fact, the obsession with the display of the Confederate flag outside the chapel not only trivializes the story of the men who lived on the grounds, but overshadows what is contained in the building.  The chapel has some beautiful stained glass windows that commemorate the service of the individual soldiers and the cause.  Of course, they can’t compete with the Tiffany windows at Blandford Cemetery in Petersburg, but they are certainly much more powerful and helpful in understanding the lives of the veterans than a flag that may or may not have flown outside the chapel during their stay.  It will come as no surprise that there are plenty of Confederate flags inside.

So glad we took the time to stop by yesterday.  Sorry, but the photographs don’t do justice to the chapel windows.



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36 comments… add one
  • Eric D Graff Mar 30, 2013 @ 22:27

    wow love it. The south was a domestic terrorist organization. stars n bars is equal to a flag by Timothy McVeigh. The south killed more Americans than any nation in our history. on my phone please forgive my lack of punctuation and grammar.

    • Kevin Levin Mar 31, 2013 @ 1:56

      Thanks for the comment, but I am not sure what any of this means.

  • Billy Bearden Mar 30, 2013 @ 11:23

    The VMFA is a part of the Virginia Govt, receiving state funds and sits on public land. It is NOT a private institution fenced off and demands a fee for entry, and is answerable to the Governor of Virginia, and he appoints board members. The SCV camp was given less than 24 hours to decide to either pull the flags with a new lease or get kicked out on the street. There was no discussions allowed, no time for the camp to call a meeting, no negotiations at all. The Battleflag flew either on the Chapel or in front of the Chapel for 74 years. A forced lease signed under threat and duress is not legal,nor is the US Flag on the pole out front of the Chapel.
    It is understandable you and my friend Andy side with the strong arm tactics and thuggery of the VMFA, because you both are not fans of the Battleflag. That is fine. But to openly impugn our efforts at the Chapel without a full indepth understanding of all the intricate details (far more than listed here) is illogical and, well, displays your own thuggery.

    • Kevin Levin Mar 30, 2013 @ 11:30


      We all know the details, Billy. If it’s not legal than you need to sue the VMFA. Either way the antics of the Flaggers have been well established over the past few months. As I said in a previous comment, the funds raised to help out Tripp Lewis could have been used for just the law suit that you believe is justified. This has nothing to do with being a “fan” of the battleflag. I think it is appropriate in certain places, including inside Pelham Chapel, where it can be properly interpreted. I also don’t have a problem with it flying outside the chapel either, but than again, I don’t get to make those choices.

      Finally, I find it funny that you refer to my words as “thuggery” given the way you recently characterized Ms. Van Lew of the UDC:

      Skank woman Van Lew of UDC monument fame is no longer head of the snake. PRAISE GOD!

      Nice example of Southern Chivalry.

  • Michael Mar 30, 2013 @ 8:32

    Kevin, There is no “good” or “bad” history. Those terms come into play when people begin interpreting events with a goal of validating their position.

    The VMFA asked in 2010 that the flags be removed after more than 15 years, but I do not believe the museum cited historical correctness for their reasons.

    • Kevin Levin Mar 30, 2013 @ 8:44

      You said: Kevin, There is no “good” or “bad” history. Those terms come into play when people begin interpreting events with a goal of validating their position.

      Of course there is a distinction. As I mentioned it has to do with how well you practice the craft.

      It doesn’t really matter to me what justification they used. It’s their property and the SCV agreed to it.

      • Grayson Mar 30, 2013 @ 8:52

        Its not “their” property. It belongs to the people of Va. They have violated the deed….read it

        • Kevin Levin Mar 30, 2013 @ 8:55

          So where is the court case that proves this? The local SCV agreed to this arrangement and yet you continue to point the finger solely at the VMFA. Try again.

        • Andy Hall Mar 30, 2013 @ 10:40

          Y’all should sue.

          • Grayson Mar 30, 2013 @ 11:02

            Send cash

            • Kevin Levin Mar 30, 2013 @ 11:06

              I guess the money raised in support of Tripp Lewis’s antics could have been better spent. 🙂

            • Andy Hall Mar 30, 2013 @ 11:28

              Other heritage cases don’t seem to lack for pro bono representation; the Candice Hardwick case has dragged on (and on, and on) has dragged on for seven years, despite never once (as far as I can see) winning at trial. Why do heritage-minded attorneys seem to be lacking in this case, I wonder?

              I’m completely serious, by the way, about suing in the VMFA case. I’ve seen it claimed over and over and over that the VMFA is doing something illegal, repeated so often that it’s hardly ever challenged. But you know what I haven’t seen? I haven’t seen the Flaggers and their attorney stand up in a courtroom and explain to a judge that the VMFA is acting illegally. Until y’all are willing to do that, all you’re doing is posturing for your fans.

              • Kevin Levin Mar 30, 2013 @ 11:32

                Who has time, when you are busy like Billy Bearden “impugning” the motives of your next door neighbor along the Boulevard. 🙂

  • Michael Mar 25, 2013 @ 15:33

    Kevin, many timne true history is that which is researched and many times goes against the commonly held and taught viewpoint.

    • Kevin Levin Mar 25, 2013 @ 16:10

      That doesn’t clarify much. It seems to me that there is good history and bad history. The difference has to do with the kinds of questions posed as well as how the evidence is gathered and assessed.

  • terry Mar 25, 2013 @ 11:54

    Thanks for the link Kevin. Good information there cleared up a lot of questions. However, I am even more convinced that true history is in trouble. Especially after reading comment #72 ·from Charlie Hugo. I’ve never seen so much hated toward the South. Yeah, I think Charlie’s hatred goes much further that the flag.

    • Kevin Levin Mar 25, 2013 @ 12:22

      You are very welcome, though I am not sure what you mean by “true history.” Typically that simply means history that I happen to agree with.

  • terry Mar 25, 2013 @ 8:51

    I am unaware of the “legal agreement.” Could you expound on that please.

    • Kevin Levin Mar 25, 2013 @ 9:58

      It should come as no surprise that this is not referenced by Flaggers.

    • Andy Hall Mar 25, 2013 @ 10:09

      The local SCV camp signed a lease in 2010 with the VMFA which explicitly allows as many flags as they want inside the chapel, but not displayed outside. The SCV agreed to those terms, in writing. That lease runs until, I believe, 2015.

      Really, Terry, before you start chest-thumping about the constitutionality of this or that, or what you find to be “OFFENSIVE,” and whose “rights” have been violated, you should familiarize yourself with the actual facts on the ground. Your reaction is exactly the sort of thing the Flaggers strive for — long on resentment, and short on actual understanding of the situation under the law.

      When the Flaggers start protesting outside the home of the SCV officer(s) who signed that lease, and publicly calling them out as “traitors” to their Confederate Heritage™, then I’ll at least give them credit for consistency. But I’m not holding my breath on that one.

      • Kevin Levin Mar 25, 2013 @ 10:12

        That wouldn’t be too big a step given that the Flaggers have already questioned the UDC’s commitment to Confederate heritage.

  • Betty Giragosian Mar 25, 2013 @ 8:10

    Do you mind if I make a correction? Many people mistakenly say Pelham Chapel. Pelham had no connection with the Confederate Memorial Chapel. I think the fact that two Pegram brothers are memorialized in two beautiful windows led to this mistake, the names being so similar. When I became a member of the UDC 53 years ago, the older ladies were adamant that it was not the Pelham chapel, but was the Confederate Memorial Chapel. Old habits die hard, and the name of the Gallant Pelham, so beloved, has persisted, but it is incorrect.

    • Kevin Levin Mar 25, 2013 @ 8:25

      Correct away. Thanks for taking the time to comment.

    • Andy Hall Mar 25, 2013 @ 8:29

      Good to know. I’ve made that error, too.

  • terry Mar 25, 2013 @ 7:26

    The First Amendment should be welcome outside the Chapel and inside the Chapel. Eliminate the flag, eliminate part of history. Don’t quiet understand the attack on the flag. I fear that hate against the flag has grave consequences for the accurate portrayal of history. Do the flag haters fear that part of history?

    Last time I checked no one has a right NOT to be offended. If so, please tell me the Constitutional provision that disallows offensive speech. (if the flag is offensive)

    The removal and attacks on the Confederate flag is OFFENSIVE to me. Where is my right? I think true history should trump petty disagreements about the Confederate flag.

    • Kevin Levin Mar 25, 2013 @ 7:32

      The problem is the flag means different things to different people. Folks have every right to be offended by it as they have the right to worship and even ignore it. As far as the history of the Confederate flag and the controversy there is no better book than John Coski’s The Confederate Battle Flag: America’s Most Embattled Emblem.

      You have the right to display the flag as you choose on your property. It’s as simple as that. The situation at the Pelham Chapel is the result of a legal agreement. Your rights have nothing to do with it.

    • Grayson Jennings Mar 25, 2013 @ 10:16

      Good grief! our sacred Southern soil has been polluted by another vile Yankee! Put this at the top of the EPA Superfund list

      • Kevin Levin Mar 25, 2013 @ 10:19

        Mr. Jennings,

        Thank you for a perfect example of why no one takes you seriously. I actually believe that the Pelham Chapel is an important place to preserve because of what it tells us about the past, but all you can do is hurl insults. Just remember that it is not your soil. It belongs to the VMFA and is open to the general public. Good day.

    • Michael Douglas Mar 25, 2013 @ 10:46

      ” I think true history should trump petty disagreements about the Confederate flag.”

      I quite agree. Why, then, do the Flaggers persist in their petty tantrum to force the VMFA to allow the CBF to be flown outside the chapel? Why do you say that the VMFA “hates” the flag? As for “accurate portrayal of history,” if the CBF was never flown outside the chapel in the first place, how is the current situation inaccurate? By the way, I’m not sure that you understand what the First Amendment does and does not protect.

      • Kevin Levin Mar 25, 2013 @ 10:58

        I just want to clarify one more thought here. The central claim made by the Flaggers is that by banning the display of the Confederate flag outside the chapel they are being denied the opportunity to commemorate the men who lived there. They ignore the obvious fact that the chapel itself as well as what is inside (namely the windows) are a much more powerful and even emotional statement that could be leveraged by the Flaggers to educate the public, which they claim they are doing. The Confederate flag has all kinds of baggage with it that the building does not suffer from. If anything, the current battles over the flag detract from being able to engage the public.

      • Rob Baker Mar 25, 2013 @ 11:08

        Just to clarify, a Confederate Battle Flag did fly outside of the chapel. Confederate Veterans flew the flag by hand and there was a stationary flag on the premises. (See links below). Sadly I cannot find the picture of the stationary flag, but I have seen it before. Hopefully it will turn up again soon.

        I am going to take a chance and go out on the proverbial limb to assume you meant the flag was never outside the door, attached to the building. In that case you are right, as far as I know. To answer the question you pose on the Flaggers’ motivations, one can only speculate. I tend to argue that it falls in line with their current political ideology.

    • Bryan Cheeseboro Mar 25, 2013 @ 15:30

      Hi Terry,

      WHY is it so important to you that the Confederate Battle Flag fly in that one particular place (outside of the building)? As Kevin has shown, it is depicted in the stained glass and there are flags inside the chapel. Do those places mean nothing to you?

      People such as yourself say the war was about “states’ rights.” Okay, so the new Appomattox Museum of the Confederacy puts the flags of the states that formed the Confederacy on display in the flag plaza outside of the building. What could be more “states’ rights” than that?

      This reminds me of a little saying I’ve heard: you can complain that a rose has thorns; or, you can be grateful that thorns have a rose. Personally, I find it amazing at times that a flag of a treasonous, open rebellion to the government of the United States is still allowed to be produced and flown at all.

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