I recently published a post entitled An Inconvenient Truth the subject of which was the recent controversy involving Southern Rock legends Lynyrd Skynyrd interview with CNN their distancing of themselves from the Confederate Battle Flag, fan outrage, and Gary Rossington’s (last original member of Lynyrd Skynyrd) clarification and pledge to keep flying the flag at their live shows.
Today I want to take the discussion in a new direction, one that will most likely get me as much or more hate mail than it will positive responses. That being said, this is what I feel, and this is what I feel is right to say.
I like most of you was both angered and disappointed when Lynyrd Skynyrd appeared on CNN and declared that they were dissociating themselves from the Confederate Flag, I found their Facebook page and shared my displeasure with them like THOUSANDS of my fellow Southerners and Skynyrd fans did. I was quite please , when Gary Rossington posted his statement clarifying his position on the flag stating that:
“I wanted to clarify the discussion of the Confederate Flag in our recent CNN interview. Myself, the past members and the present members (that are from the South), are all extremely proud of our heritage and being from the South. We know what the Dixie flag represents and its heritage; the Civil War was fought over States rights.
We still utilize the Confederate (Rebel) flag on stage every night in our shows, we are and always will be a Southern American Rock band, first and foremost. We also utilize the state flag of Alabama and the American flag as well, ‘cause at the end of the day, we are all Americans. I only stated my opinion that the confederate flag, at times, was unfairly being used as a symbol by various hate groups, which is something that we don’t support the flag being used for. The Confederate flag means something more to us, Heritage not Hate”
It was good to know that so many of us spoke out and it was even better that somebody listened. Gary Rossington listened and tried to make things right, now where I come from, that’s all a man can do , or be expected to do. So why are so many of my Southern brothers in the ranks of the Sons of Confederate Veterans still raking him over the coals?
Michael Givens, Commander in Chief of the Sons of Confederate Veterans could never be described as a simple administrator, or a bureacrat within the ranks of the 31,000 that make up the Sons. He is an Independent film maker, he is articulate, proactive and thinks outside of the box in his duties. In short his has been an excellent commander but in the case of Lynyrd Skynyrd, specifically Gary Rossington’s statements he is wrong. Responding to Rossington’s statement he left the following comment in the comments section at the band’s website, www.lynyrdskynyrd.com stating:
“Dear Gary, Lynyrd Skynyrd, management, `et alia’,
I am the Commander-in-Chief of the Sons of Confederate Veterans. We are an organization, chartered in 1896 by veterans of the War for Southern Independence for the purpose of promoting the true history and principles of the Confederate soldiers’ cause. On behalf of our 31,000 members I write you today to express our deep sadness and concern over your present stance toward our venerable banner of the South. Your use of the flag in a manner that is up lifting and not aligned with any form of hate has been a stalwart defense of the flag’s true symbolism for many years. We appreciate and applaud your past efforts on behalf of our common ancestors.
Our biggest concern comes from your statement on the 8th of September 2012 to CNN. You disclosed, “But I think through the years, you know, people like the KKK and Skinheads and people have kind of kidnapped the dixie rebel flag from the southern tradition and the heritage of the soldiers.” Sir, our ancestors wrote the definition of that flag with their blood and when they furled the flag at the last battle they tucked their God-given liberty inside. The KKK and the Skinheads do not define our flag any more than the NAACP or any other hate group.
I am sure you do not agree with their hateful views of our flag, therefore I must ask you, who will stand up for the TRUTH, if not you and if not me? The answer is no one and without us the truth will be buried with the American Confederate flag. That is why we must not capitulate to their nancy demands.
Like many men in my organization, your music has been the soundtrack of my life. Your songs have helped define my own identity and Southernness. I have been a fan from the beginning. I was at the second to the last concert of the original band in Johnson City, Tennessee. All my best friends were at the Greenville, South Carolina concert a few days later. Then, our lives were changed forever—some much more than others. We have always been there for you. Your fans have not let you down. Do not let us down.
My fear is that you are living the song, WORKING FOR THE MCA and that Lynyrd Skynyrd has become the subject of a re-branding effort that hopes to make a kinder, gentler Lynyrd Skynyrd. I worked in the ad world for twenty years; re-branding’s not what we need. We need the honest and courageous Lynyrd Skynyrd.
Stay true to your people.
Please fell free to contact me if I may help. I wish you the very best and remain,
Michael Givens Commander-in-Chief Sons of Confederate Veterans scv.org michaelgivens.com”
This was a good statement, a proper statement, and it should have stopped there, however; since making the statement he has also added :
“They still have not put it back in merchandise and the fact that they capitulated in the first place continues the acid rain of angst.”
Commander Givens has also seemingly become obsessed with a few nameless individuals in the comments (all 53 of them) section on the band’s website www.lynyrdskynyrd.com stating: “My letter to Skynyrd has brought out the loons. Y’all might want to chime in”, as well as being obsessed with the the moderators on the site.
Sir, perhaps Gary Rossington did some soul searching after the CNN interview and the backlash from the fans. The end result is that the band will once again fly the flag that has been the symbol of the band for over 40 years, and our heritage for 150 years.
You , me, or anyone else for that matter has no right to demand what kind of merchandise they sell. The free market will determine the demand. Isn’t that what our ancestors fought the war to begin with? Besides, Gary Rossington isn’t telling us what merchandise to sell.
While you have been trying to bring Lynyrd Skynyrd under the heel, a major developement has occurred in Alabama. The Herald Standard is reporting that:
“Council members in an Alabama city voted Tuesday to stop a group’s work on a new monument honoring a Confederate general who was an early leader in the Ku Klux Klan.
The Selma City Council voted 4-0 with two members abstaining to stop all work on the monument to Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest until the courts decide whether the city or a Confederate heritage group owns the cemetery property where the monument would be rebuilt.
Demonstrations by civil rights groups about 10 years ago led to the relocation of a Forrest monument from outside a city building near downtown to a section of a city cemetery honoring Confederate war dead. But Forrest’s bust was removed and apparently stolen from atop a 7-foot granite memorial earlier this year, and efforts to rebuild it have drawn protests and calls by civil rights activists not to replace it.
Detractors say Forrest traded black people like cattle, massacred black Union soldiers and joined the early Ku Klux Klan. His defenders dispute much of that and counter with stories that depict him as a protector of slave families and defender of the weak who resigned from the KKK”
I ask you this; Who is more of a threat to our heritage? A group of friends who admit they were wrong and moves forward, or a group of well organized individuals, who will never admit when they are wrong and will not be happy until they destroy everything we hold dear?
Commander Givens, I respect you, but I would respect you a hell of a lot more if you got off your computer, stop having a teenage-style chatroom smack down with a nameless idiot and get your ass down to Alabama to confront the REAL threats to our heritage. respectfully,Clint E. LacyMember Colonel John T. Coffee Camp #1934, Osceola, Missouri