- Associated Press - Tuesday, July 28, 2015

July 28—DES MOINES — A representative of the Iowa State Fair said the Hawkeye State seems to be following suit with what other state fairs are doing regarding the Confederate flag emblem — but not necessarily by way of a rule change.

Mindy Williams, the marketing director for the Iowa State Fair, said the topic hasn’t been a contentious one so far in the weeks leading up to the fair.

“To my knowledge, we haven’t received any inquiries on the issue,” Williams said.

The marketing director said the Iowa State Fair hasn’t made a formal rule change regarding the flag, but that might not end up being necessary.

“We haven’t changed any policies, but we have checked with our vendors, and as far as we know, there will not be any Confederate flags for sale at the Iowa State Fair,” she said.

Illinois, Ohio, Kentucky and New York are among the states whose organizers have decided not to allow sale of Confederate flag merchandise at state fairs this year. Indiana State Fair administrators asked vendors not to sell it or display the flag.

Pastor Richard D. Streeter of the Colfax United Methodist Church said he feels the more commonly displayed Confederate symbol — stars inside of blue stripes in a X over an orange background — is a racist symbol that shouldn’t be displayed. However, he feels the original Confederate flag, which is two red stripes and a white stripe with 13 stars in the corner, is a proud symbol of Southern heritage and unity.

“The one we see everywhere, that’s a racist flag, and I would hope there would be no one selling it at a fair,” Streeter said. “But the one the Confederacy originally used, that continues to be a part of history.”

Streeter said he recently took a trip to Alabama, Mississippi and other places in the South, and the “stars and bars” flag is as commonly flown as ever. He said a visit to a church where four young girls were killed in a 1963 bombing was “overwhelming,” and the original Confederate flag represents all of America’s struggles with racial and other conflicts.

The decades-old controversy over the flag emblem was rekindled by the massacre of nine black worshippers at a church in South Carolina last month. The white man who was indicted last week in the slayings, Dylann Storm Roof, had posed with the Confederate battle flag in photos that were posted online before the attack and authorities say he was motivated by racial hatred.

The flag issue led to the removal of the flag from the South Carolina and Georgia statehouses and has led to discussion of not only no longer honoring Confederate leaders and war heroes, but even U.S. presidents Thomas Jefferson and Andrew Jackson, who both owned slaves.

Iowa contributed the largest percentage of its population to the Civil War effort of any Union state. With an 1860 population of about 675,000, there were 76,242 Iowa men who served in the military during that time, many in combat units attached to the western armies. More died of disease than from combat wounds, with 13,001 killed and 8,500 Iowa men wounded.

Cemeteries throughout the South contain the remains of Iowa soldiers that fell during the war, and there are both Union and Confederate soldiers buried in Iowa.

Streeter said with all the issues confronting the United States today, flag displays are probably not at the forefront. “We’ve got a heck of a lot more important things to worry about than a piece of cloth,” he said.

Contact Jason W. Brooks at 641-792-3121 ext. 6532 or [email protected]

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(c)2015 the Newton Daily News (Newton, Iowa)

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