- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 2, 2006

AMHERST, Va. (AP) — The removal of the Confederate flag from Amherst County’s official seal has upset Southern heritage groups, who contend residents weren’t told of the change.

They will get no argument from county officials: They acknowledge the image was quietly removed in August 2004 to avoid an uproar.

“Anytime you get a subject that broad, you can interrupt the entire county,” said Leon Parrish of the Board of Supervisors.

Members of the Sons of Confederate Veterans and others opposed to the change have gathered hundreds of signatures protesting the flag’s removal.

A small image of the flag was in the center of the seal, which was created in 1961 as part of the county’s 200th anniversary.

While celebrated by some, critics see the flag as a symbol of the South’s segregated past and slavery.

The flag’s removal came as the result of a resolution from the Board of Supervisors, said David Proffitt, interim county administrator. A resolution does not require a public hearing.

“I don’t think that the county should be promoting anything that’s offensive to anyone,” Mr. Parrish told the News & Advance of Lynchburg, in an article published yesterday.

He said he proposed the resolution after receiving requests to do so from residents of his district.

Resident Leah Lovell said that she first discovered the flag was missing in April when she got her new county decal.

“That’s the first thing I noticed,” Miss Lovell said. “It’s part of our history. It affects thousands of people in the county.”

At Dixie Outfitters, a Southern heritage memorabilia store in Madison Heights that prominently displays the flag on its storefront, county residents can sign petitions.

Brenda Beeton, who runs the shop with her husband, Dennis, said that she felt eliminating the flag from the seal took away a piece of Amherst County’s history.

“When you change history, you burn a book, just like they did in Nazi Germany,” Mrs. Beeton said. “You might as well live in Russia during the communist regime.”

Still, Mr. Parrish said that he and the board stand by their decision.

“People use the excuse that it’s history, but if I want to know history, I go to the history books, not a symbol or a picture,” he said.

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