- The Washington Times - Friday, August 31, 2001

A Southern heritage group says the town of Luray, Va., is insulting Rebel soldiers and breaking the law by flying an American flag at a Confederate statue.
The Virginia Heritage Coalition is calling on town leaders to replace the Stars and Stripes near the memorial with the Confederate flag, contending that state law prohibits placing Union markings on Confederate memorials.
The U.S. flag and Union flag are one and the same, says coalition member Tom Phillips.
"We're asking the town to abide by the law," he said, insisting that "Confederate heritage has just come under a tremendous attack."
His group is considering a lawsuit against Luray.
Town Manager Bill Vance said Luray has no plans to remove the American flag or even address the issue at a meeting. Besides, he said, the flagpole is in the "vicinity" of the statue, about 20 to 30 feet away, and not part of the statue.
"As far as we're concerned, the United States flag is going to stay where it is until somebody [in authority] tells us to take it down," he said.
Mayor Ralph H. Dean, meanwhile, has said no one has ever complained about the American flag at the statue during his 20 years in office.
The issue has brought out some strong opinions from residents in this Shenandoah Valley town ever since coalition Chairman Chad Allen first approached town leaders with his complaint two months ago.
"The flag is fine just where it is," said a member of the local historical society, who did not want to give her name.
A business owner, who also did not want to be identified, called the whole thing "ridiculous."
"We've never had a problem with that stuff around here."
An outside observer didn't agree.
"I think that the mistake should be corrected," said Chuck Walker, a member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans in Winchester, Va. "The Union Jack is not to fly over a Confederate memorial.
"The men that are buried in these cemeteries gave their all for their country, which was the Confederate States of America," Mr. Walker said.
Luray is one of several small Virginia towns struggling with their Confederate heritage.
Earlier this summer, the West Point town manager ordered a member of the United Daughters of the Confederacy to remove Confederate flags from a public cemetery where 34 Southern soldiers were buried.
At a town meeting, a town attorney said that the flags are protected by the First Amendment and may be returned to the grave sites.
In Craig County, a judge this year denied an attempt by some residents of New Castle to fly Confederate flags at the courthouse next to a 90-year-old Confederate statue on Memorial Day.
Two years ago in Windsor, the town manager chose not to have his southeastern hamlet participate in the dedication of its first historic marker because the organizer planned to fly a Confederate flag.
According to its Web site, the Virginia Heritage Coalition also supports: April as Confederate History and Heritage Month as declared by the General Assembly; "Carry Me Back to Ole Virginny" as the state song; and returning the Confederate flag to the uniform of members of the Virginia State Guard.

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