East TN legislator joins in honoring Confederate flag

A state legislator spoke Saturday at a gathering in front of the Sullivan County courthouse to honor the history and heritage of the Confederate flag, reports the Bristol Herald Courier. The event was organized by the Sons of Confederate Veterans as part of the organization’s national Confederate Flag Day and comes with controversy afoot elsewhere over Confederate recognition.

 “You can’t help but have a sense of pride in home and preservation of our history and our story because that’s who we are,” said state Rep. Timothy Hill, R-Blountville, speaking about Blountville’s Civil War history. “When you let go of that, when you start allowing monuments to be defaced and erased, you forget your roots.”

Hill said he attended reenactment events when he was younger.

“I got to bear the colors,” Hill said. “Even then, I understood what a tremendous honor that was as part of that reenactment.”

The representative said the state legislature will likely respond to recent incidents in Memphis, where Confederate monuments were removed late last year.

“I suspect there will be a response, hopefully an appropriate response, from the legislature,” Hill said. “It remains to be seen what that’s going to be.”

Billie Joe Holley, commander of the Vaughn’s Brigade chapter of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, said Confederate Flag Day has been held locally for three consecutive years.

 “I stood here a year ago, right there on the steps, and told you that we were at war,” Holley said. “They are trying to destroy us. You look back at the events of the last year and I’m not a prophet but I can see what’s going on. The south was full of men in the 1830s on and knew what was going to happen.”

Holley thanked Hill for attending the ceremony, adding that many politicians would not have attended due to the flag.

Notes: One of several bills filed in response to the Memphis move on Confederate monuments is sponsored by Hill’s brother, Rep. Matthew Hill (R-Jonesborough). HB2146, which hasn’t been scheduled for a committee vote, would authorize state government to seize historic monuments from private owners – such as the non-profit company that took possession of Jefferson Davis and Nathan Bedford Forrest statues – and says public officials “negatively impacting the historic recognition of such property” can be ousted from office.

Another bill (HB2554) has cleared a House sub and is scheduled for a vote in the full State Government Committee, but would not directly impact the Memphis statue situation since it applies to future actions, not past actions. Sponsor Rep. Dawn White (R-Murfreesboro) says it would “close a loophole” in current law. (Commercial Appeal story HERE.)

Elsewhere on the Confederate flag front, the News Sentinel has a report that starts thusly:

Murals in the gym of a Crossville Elementary School have been modified to remove rebel flags and what initially looks like a depiction of a lynching, after complaints to the director of the school district.

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