Some Groups Refuse To Take Part In Veterans Day Parade Over Flag Flap
Posted November 9, 2000 6:00 a.m. EST
FAYETTEVILLE — The Fayetteville Veterans Day parade on Hay Street is expected to attract about 6,000 people on Saturday. Nearly 100 groups have signed up to march, but some groups are issuing their marching orders. They refuse to take part because of the Confederate flag.
The Fayetteville Arsenal Camp of the Sons of the Confederate Veterans plans to march with the confederate flag. The action has some black veterans upset. Rufus Hayes, 73, says the flag is a symbol of racism, and he will not participate in the parade.
"I think it's a slap in the black folks' face -- a mockery that's carrying us back 100 years," he says.
Members of the confederate group say it is a symbol to honor their ancestors, who are veterans, too.
"They should not be offended by it because we mean no offense by it," says Dr. Robert Downing, Korean War veteran. "We know the flags have been misused by hate groups, but we are not a hate group."
The parade is co-sponsored by the local veterans' council and the City of Fayetteville, but not all city departments will participate. The fire department has decided to pull out after an employee expressed his concerns to the chief.
"He told me he was going to drop out, and I said if you have a problem with it, then I have a problem with it," says fire chief Pete Piner.
At least two other groups say they will not march either. Organizers just hope the flap over the flag will not rain on their parade.
"We all have our issues and we have to stand by them, but let's not get in the way of honoring the veterans," says Richard Zavesky of the Cumberland County Veterans Council.
Because this is a city-sponsored event, no group can be denied their right to march. However, in hopes of preventing controversy, the Veterans Council did ask the confederate group to bow out, but they refused.