Confederate flag petition delivered

Published 10:50 pm Monday, September 16, 2019

Saluda hears comments for and against flag at Coon Dog Day

SALUDA—Saluda officials were visited this week by members of the Sons of Confederate Veterans as well as a couple of residents who had conflicting views on whether or not the confederate flag should be displayed at the annual Coon Dog Day Festival. 

The Saluda Board of Commissioners met Tuesday and heard from five Sons of Confederate Veteran members out of South Carolina who all march in the Coon Dog Day parade as well Bruce Jayne, who submitted a petition against the confederate flag being displayed in the parade. 

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Christopher Rucker, of Boiling Springs, S.C. said he’s been a member of Sons of Confederate Veterans over 30 years and has marched in a confederate uniform for 20 years in the Coon Dog Day parade. 

“And never once in 20 years have I ever heard a disparaging remark nor seen an unkind gesture,” Rucker said. “I have gotten a thumbs up from the crowd, I’ve gotten an ‘Atta boy,’ I’ve gotten ‘thank you for remembering our ancestors’…I have always been made to feel welcome here in Saluda. I hope that continues in the future.” 

Rucker said he came Tuesday to introduce himself and to speak to anyone who might feel threatened, frightened or otherwise annoyed by his presence. 

Richard Thomas, out of Grassy Pond, S.C., said he has been coming to Coon Dog Day many years and hopes to continue coming for many years to come. 

William Berry out of Duncan, S.C. said he used to come to march in the parade. He said when they came he thought they were well received. 

“I didn’t know of any problems, so if there is something out of line, we’d like to correct it,” Berry said. 

Berry said he wanted to know what the problem is if someone is upset because they would like to keep coming to the event. 

James Crocker, from Inman, S.C., said he’s been coming for many years as well. He said all the Sons of the Confederate Veterans are doing is observing the southern history. 

“We like to come up here and just talk people,” Crocker said, “because there’s always an interest in the crowd as to who we are, what we are and what the southern heritage is.” 

Robert Merting, of Greenville, S.C. said he’s been coming to Coon Dog Day for about five years. 

“We’re always to happy to be here and we’re glad that y’all have us,” Merting said. 

Saluda resident Bruce Jayne, who also brought up the confederate flag at a previous meeting, said he’s speaking on behalf of the 53 residents of the Saluda community who signed a petition against the confederate flag being displayed. 

He said that it has been raised that not all the signatures are in city residents but they all want the very best for Saluda and invest their time and energy to make the town the best it can be. 

“Our concern about the public display of the confederate flag comes from our strong desire to see nothing hurt or put out a negative impact on the reputation of this fine town,” Jayne said. 

Jayne said the simple fact is many African Americans see that flag publicly displayed and see the message of, “you’re not welcome here.” 

Jayne spoke at a previous meeting this summer expressing his concern because the Coon Dog Day parade had for the first time an African American woman as the grand marshal with confederate flags also being displayed in the parade. 

Nancy Pew also spoke on Tuesday. 

“I think what we all need to do is sit down and have a conversation,” Pew said. 

She said she hopes the city will come back and have a discussion with people so they can be in better shape for next year’s Coon Dog Day parade.