I recently discovered a treasure trove of articles I had written dating back to 2003 which documented efforts to combat what many of us felt was a grave injustice to Missouri history by the Governor of Missouri at the time.
On January 15, 2003 the Washington Post published an article reporting that [then] Missouri Governor Bob Holden had ordered Confederate flags removed at historic sites located at Higginsville and Pilot Knob, Missouri. Of course no politician wakes up one morning and is plagued by thoughts of flags flying at historic sites. It just so happened that Governor Holden’s good friend ,Congressman Richard Gephardt, was running for president and suggested that the flags needed to be removed. The Washington Post reported:
“State officials took down Confederate flags at two historic sites today after Democratic presidential hopeful Richard A. Gephardt said they shouldn’t be flown anywhere.
Confederate battle flags were removed at the Confederate Memorial Historic Site and the Fort Davidson Historic Site, said Sue Holst, spokeswoman for the Missouri Department of Natural Resources. The flags will still be displayed inside the sites’ visitor centers.
Over the weekend, Gephardt said: “My own personal feeling is that the Confederate flag no longer has a place flying any time, anywhere in our great nation.”
Mary Still, spokeswoman for Gov. Bob Holden (D), said she called Natural Resources Director Steve Mahfood after reading a news report about Gephardt’s statement.
“I told Steve it seemed to me it wouldn’t be appropriate to have it flying on a flagpole, but that I didn’t know all of their considerations, and I left it in his lap,” Still said. The Missouri leader of a Confederate heritage organization said politicians were trying to erase state history.
“They take our tax money and then they turn around and try to destroy our heritage,” said Gene Dressel, state commander of Sons of Confederate Veterans.”
Later that year I would come up with the idea of placing Confederate flags on private property for those who wanted to fly them. If the Governor took two flags down, we would put hundreds up in their place. We chose the Arcadia Valley in Missouri’s Eastern Ozarks as our first location and I began to reach out to local business owners in the area about our idea. It was not long before I made some very good contacts and began to organize like minded individuals to help in the effort.
By July 5, 2003 we met in Arcadia to kick off the event. Below is a summary of the events that transpired that day:
Return to Arcadia:
The Kick Off of the Missouri Flag Campaign
By: Clint E. Lacy
This past Saturday July 5th, 2003 will be a day that I will never forget as long as I live. On Memorial Day this past May I went to the Arcadia Valley and for the first time saw the empty flag pole where the Second National Confederate flag once flew, at the Fort Davidson Historic Site. It was then and there that I decided I must do something to combat the Missouri politicians plan to implement their politically correct agenda in our state.
U.S. Representative Richard Gephardt from Democrat from Missouri started this whole fiasco in January 2003 while campaigning in South Carolina. Missouri Governor Bob Holden also a Democrat fulfilled his wishes by removing a Confederate battle flag at the Higginsville, Mo. Confederate cemetery, and another Second National Confederate Flag at the Fort Davidson State Historic Site in Pilot Knob, Missouri. Those who were expecting Missouri’s Republicans to combat this were soon disappointed when Republican Senators Bond and Talent publicly stated that they supported the Governor’s decision to remove the flags.
It was through my writing that I met my good friends the Warren Family of Bridgeport, Illinois, and Frank Carlton, chairman of the Missouri League of the South. I told Frank of my flag campaign idea and he was immediately on board and making phone calls and raising support for our cause. Terry Warren was equally supportive and gave me invaluable advice and also raised much support for our cause. Through Frank I met Richard Gibbs also of the League of the South, whom I have also become a very good friend with. And last but not least Jamie and Cody Wiles, owners of the Arcadia Cafe who got the other businesses on board.
The Arcadia was our rendezvous point for the Warren’s, the Gibb’s and the Lacy’s Saturday. Cody also introduced us to some new friends as well. One of the was Ron Warren and his wife Sandy. Ron used to be involved in the Friends of Fort Davidson organization but resigned because he was asked not to speak out about the controversy. He is a very principled man and continues to teach about Southern Heritage. The other was Mrs. Polly Hollie who is a member of the Arcadia Historical Society.
Terry Warren presented Illinois Sons of Confederate veteran’s award to Cody and her husband Jamie in recognition of the help they have contributed to our Flag Campaign. We all then loaded up and drove to Ironton to present Mr. Jerry Turner with a Second National Confederate flag to display at his antique shop. Mr. Turner was happy to see us and very supportive of our efforts. We got out Richard’s tools and hung the flagpole and holder for Mr. Turner. We then thanked him and bid him adieu.
We then set off for our third stop of the day, Baylee Jo’s Southern BBQ. The owner’s name is Chris Sullinger. Chris named his business after his daughter Baylee. He too is upset with the Governor’s decision to remove the Confederate flags in Missouri. He told me that he was a flight attendant for years and had met people from all around the world.
“There’s not a racist bone in my body”, Mr. Sullinger told me. He then added, “ I teach my daughter to treat people, as you would want to be treated”. It is at this point I must add that this seems to be the general feeling of most of the residents in the Arcadia Valley.
Most feel that the Governor had no right to rewrite history for the sake of political gain. I talked some more to Mr. Sullinger and found that he is not only supporting the Missouri Flag Campaign for his own heritage but also for Baylee Jo. Mr. Sullinger informed me that Baylee’s ancestors on her mother’s side of the family were all Southerners from Mississippi. “Men fought and died for this flag”, Mr. Sullinger added. He also expressed his opinion that they should be honored by flying the Confederate flag in the area’s that they fought and died.
All of us had an enjoyable visit with Chris Sullinger. We mounted his Second National on a tree that is on his property clearly visible from Missouri Hwy 21. We thanked him and he thanked us and we loaded up again.
This time Mrs. Hollie wanted to show us a Lutheran Church that had been built prior to the War Between the States and also served as a Union hospital during and after the Battle of Pilot Knob, Missouri. She opened the doors with the original key to the church. “Ms. Polly”, as we called her took us on a trip back in time as she told us of the history of the church and showed us the old school room upstairs and the backroom of the church that still has the bloodstain of Union soldiers on the floor. Sadly she is facing her own preservation problems. The Lutheran Church does not want to preserve the site and she has received little help from the other Lutheran Church in town. So if you’re ever in Arcadia please look up Ms. Polly and take the tour of the church, and also if you have it, donate a little money to preserve this piece of history.
After the tour of the church, we went to the Arcadia Cafe for lunch. Jamie and Cody were swamped so we found out there would be a bit of a wait. “Ms. Polly” invited us all to tour her home to pass some time. “It’s just a couple of blocks away”, “Ms. Polly” told us. So we all started to follow her home (Terry very wisely went back for the van so we wouldn’t have to walk back.)
Ms. Polly’s property was beautiful, again a step back in time. She told the women and children that she had a collection of over 4,000 dolls. And as if a mind reader she brought me the key to her husband’s shop and told us to go check out his car collection. After a while we decided to try the Arcadia again. Terry took the women and children in the van as Richard and I started back on foot.
We talked about how friendly the people of Arcadia and the surrounding communities were. It was amazing how hospitable they and how they all respected history as we did. Especially “Ms. Polly”, who told me after posing for a picture while hanging Jerry Turner’s flag, “ Son, make sure you take your hat off next time”.
Terry then showed up as Richard and I were walking and talking. He pulled up to the curb so we could get in. “we didn’t expect you to come back for us”, I said. To which Terry replied, “ A good commander always takes care of the women and children first, but he never forgets his men!”. Terry Warren is certainly a man of his word.
Back at the Arcadia we ordered our meal and before we ate, Richard asked if we minded if he said a prayer, to which there were no objections. He prayed for our meal and our cause and thanked God for this special day of fellowship.
We started to eat and unwind thinking the day was winding down when we saw Chris Sullinger, the owner of Baylee Joes BBQ , pull up outside the Arcadia Cafe and run in excitedly. We were fearful that he might have found trouble by hanging up his new Second National flag, but it was quite the opposite.
“Your never going to believe this”, Chris exclaimed. “Jimmy VanZant cousin of the famous Ronnie and Johnny VanZant of Lynyrd Skynyrd fame had driven by and saw it flying. He stopped in and told Chris he had been looking for a Second National Confederate flag but had not been able to find one. He asked Chris if he could have his and Chris asked us if we’d mind if he gave it to Jimmie.
“Nope, not at all”, I replied. We agreed it would be no trouble at all to get Chris another flag.
Chris told us that before Jimmy stopped by he had already received several positive comments and thank you’s for flying it.
“Jimmy is giving a concert at Lesterville tonight for about 2000 people”, Chris said. He then went on to say
“Clint he wants you to write a speech so he could tell the crowd about the Missouri flag campaign!”.
I asked “Ms. Polly for a piece of paper and wrote the speech. Chris also said that Jimmy VanZant had also found out that he played drums and invited him to the concert to play on the song “Sweet Home Alabama”.
Terry looked at me and said, “It’s out of your hands and in God’s hands now Clint”
“I can’t believe this” I said, while looking at everyone.
“It could only happen in Arcadia”, Ms. Polly replied.
To which I answered, “I believe you’re right Ms. Polly”.