Veterans Day is a week away. And, as they have for more than a decade, veterans will take part in a parade around the Texas State Capitol. It also looks like the Confederate flag will be there, as it has been in the past, but this time the flag's appearance comes despite efforts from Travis County Judge Sarah Eckhardt to ban it from the parade.
Her call has spurred some controversy.
Olie Pope, chairperson of the parade committee and a manager at the Travis County Veterans Services Office, resigned in the middle of the commissioner’s meeting yesterday .
The committee plans the parade and is independent of Travis County and, when a member brought up the issue of the Confederate flag, the committee voted to continue allowing it. Still, not everyone backs that decision.
“Being born in Macon, Georgia, when I saw this flag it was carried by the KKK, it was carried by hate groups and it was definitely a symbol of death. And we fought it with all of our courage and all of our might to defeat it and we still will do that today,” said Nelson Linder, president of the local NAACP chapter.
Linder testified along with Terry Ayers, a member of the Descendants of Confederate Veterans. Ayers said the flag was a matter of historical document.
“We are not the only groups representing veterans of previous wars,” Ayers said. “Those groups dress in uniforms of the time period in which the war occurred. Many carry weapons, flags and banners from that time period. We are no different.”
In an email, Austin Mayor Steve Adler called the flag a “political symbol of hatred and racism.”
Judge Eckhardt said in a statement that the County had a majority opposition to the display of the flag, and that it will try to withdraw its support without affecting the parade itself:
"A majority of the Commissioners Court voiced opposition to display of the Confederate Battle Flag and voiced support for Mr. Pope divesting himself and his staff of administrative duties for the parade. Travis County expects the Veterans Day Parade will continue under the supervision of the Committee. Travis County will make every attempt to withdraw its administrative support in a way that does not imperil this year’s parade."