- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 29, 2020

A large Confederate flag that’s flown the Interstate 95 skies in Stafford County, Virginia — and that’s been the subject of much heated debate, particularly in recent politically correct times — will finally be pulled from its post.

Chalk this as another historical symbol on the way out, deemed too offensive for public display.

The banner was put up by Virginia Flaggers in 2014. And it’s flown high above the tree line along I-95 — irking those who’ve argued, or who’ve tried to argue, that it’s a symbol of hate and racism and has no place in today’s society.

“It’s disgraceful,” said one woman opposing its presence, back in 2018. “It’s right there and we have to pass it all the time.”

So goes private property rights, right?

Anyhow, times have changed.

Virginia’s Department of Transportation announced plans to remove the flag before the end of this month. Why? A planned Northbound Rappahannock River Crossing Project has moved the property on which the flag was flown from private to public — that is, eminent domain grabbed the parcel, said Stafford County’s vice chairman of the Board of Supervisors, Mark Dudenhefer, reported WJLA.

“VDOT compensated the private property owner for the acquired land, and VDOT is compensating Virginia Flaggers as a tenant for the installed structure, in accordance with Right-of-Way requirements,” Dudenhefer said, WJLA wrote.

The announcement comes at the same time a judge in Richmond issued a ruling that puts another long-standing historical marker, a 21-foot tall Robert E. Lee statue atop a 40-foot-high pedestal in the heart of the city, on Monument Avenue, on notice. Circuit Judge W. Reilly Marchant dissolved an injunction that blocked the Virginia governor, Democrat Ralph Northam, from removing the 40-ton statue.

Marchant wrote, in part, that allowing the statue to stay in its Monument Avenue spot “would be contrary to public policy,” The Progress-Index reported.

It’s been there 130 years.

Northam, along with a devoted group of activists, wanted it gone, characterizing it as a symbol of racism and praising the judge’s ruling as a welcome step toward a “more inclusive, equitably and honest Virginia.”

Several other Confederate statues and monuments and symbols have already been ripped from the streets of Richmond.

Soon, this statue will follow suit.

Soon, too, the long-standing Confederate flag by I-95.

The tear-down of offensive symbols may make some feel better, may soothe uncomfortable feelings — may even, in the end, help unite some communities and heal past hurts.

But somehow, tearing down historical symbols seems, at root, un-American.

It strikes more as an act of ISIS than of an “out of many, one” show of Americanism.

And in the end, what is really gained? Erasing history doesn’t change history. But it does remove possible artifacts that can teach truthful history. And if the lesson to be gleaned here is that painful histories should not be repeated, tearing down historical monuments, markers, memorials and symbols is simply counterintuitive to that goal.

• Cheryl Chumley can be reached at cchumley@washingtontimes.com or on Twitter, @ckchumley. Listen to her podcast “Bold and Blunt” by clicking HERE. And never miss her column; subscribe to her newsletter by clicking HERE.

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