- The Washington Times - Monday, April 9, 2001

The Sons of Confederate Veterans have bought an ad in the Richmond Times-Dispatch newspaper today, the anniversary of Robert E. Lee's surrender at Appomattox, with their own proclamation designating April as "Confederate History Month."
The ad is an answer to Gov. James S. Gilmore III, who changed the Confederate History Month proclamation he has issued the previous three Aprils, omitting the traditional tributes to Lee and Stonewall Jackson, and including vaguely worded praise for everyone in the war. The Sons said the proclamation was a surrender of Virginian heritage and an insult to Virginia's history.
The ad marks a political awakening for the Sons, who are showing they are willing to match their opponents' political maneuvers and firepower with a bit of firepower of their own.
"We've sat back and watched these politicians just erode our heritage. We're not going to stand for it anymore. You're going to see a lot more of the Sons of Confederate Veterans in the future," said Brag Bowling, an official with the Sons' Virginia chapter.
The group paid $7,000 for the ad. It reprints the Sons' own proclamation, which members unanimously approved at their state convention last week. The proclamation declares that April will be Confederate History and Heritage month "from this day forward to eternity."
The Sons said Mr. Gilmore surrendered to demands from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, whose Virginia chapter had threatened an economic boycott if the governor issued the same proclamation again this year.
The NAACP had rejected any proclamation that recognized Confederate history, while the Sons had told the governor anything that wasn't titled Confederate history was unacceptable.
The Sons protested the part of Mr. Gilmore's text where he said without slavery there would have been no war.
Slavery may have been critical for other Southern states, Mr. Bowling said, but not Virginia "It was only when Lincoln called for 75,000 troops to put down what was going on in the lower South that Virginia seceded," he said. Lincoln's proclamation is regarded as the tipping point for other states, particularly Arkansas and Tennessee.
Lila White, the governor's press secretary, told the Times-Dispatch Mr. Gilmore has been "very respectful" of the views of the Sons of Confederate Veterans. "He believes very strongly in the proclamation that he wrote and that it's time for all Virginians to pull together," she said.
Salim Khalfani, the executive director of the state NAACP, couldn't be reached yesterday. The governor won the praise earlier of the NAACP for his revised proclamation.
The NAACP has taken a stand on Confederate symbols, opposing the Confederate battle flag when it is part of a state flag or being flown over a state capitol, as it was in South Carolina.
But the Sons say they will fight back. Mr. Bowling said the national Sons will start a political action committee, and that the Virginia group may follow suit.
The Sons are also upset that Virginia Attorney General Mark L. Earley is appealing a federal district court ruling that said the Sons can obtain a state license plate with their emblem, which includes the battle flag.
Mr. Bowling said the Sons will have a legislative agenda next year and will lobby for Confederate monument protection and battlefield preservation.
This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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