Letter to the Editor: Showing tolerance and mutual respect for other people’s symbols

(Confederate reunion in Huntsville, Alabama, 1928. Wikipeida)

Dear Editor,

I am an American whose family has participated in supporting, protecting and preserving The United States of America. I believe that the Confederate Flag, Our Confederate Monuments, Our Confederate Sacred Places/Burials, and Our Confederate names of our roads and highways are apart of mine as well as other Southern American’s Heritage, which is apart of America’s Southern Culture. The truth is my Southern Culture is a part of our collective American History.

I believe in preserving and not removing Confederate names of roads/highways and monuments. I also believe that the Confederate Flag should be freely displayed in public and in private places as a symbol of American’s Southern Heritage and Culture; which is apart of our 1st Amendment Freedom of Speech.

Please take the time to read what I wrote that was published in The Washington Post last year;

In regards to viewing a Confederate Flag as being offensive to an individual, I would like to present a comparable example why Confederate flags should be honored and respected.

I would like to share some history of my family. The Guerrant family is descended from French Huguenots (Protestants). My family’s original last name was Guerin. They settled in Virginia in 1699 and changed their name to the now anglicized version of Guerrant.

Picture of the Confederate flag flying behind the Confederate Soldier Monument on the Statehouse Grounds in Columbia, SC. (Wikipedia)
Picture of the Confederate flag flying behind the Confederate Soldier Monument on the Statehouse Grounds in Columbia, SC. (Wikipedia)

The Guerin family barely escaped the Catholic-backed persecution, torture, and death of the Catholic Inquisition in France. In part the Huguenots wanted to live civilly and to worship in peace. They also wanted to practice their faith without having to be forced to practice a faith they disagreed with. The Catholic Church backed and supported the persecution, torture and murder of French Protestants. My ancestor Henri Guerin was tortured and was broken (died) on the “wheel”. The wheel was a torture device used in public executions. It was also used in part to force Protestants to renounce their current faith and to announce in spoken words that the Catholic religion was the true faith.

Pope Gregory XIII (1572-85) had a medal made to celebrate the massacre of Saint Bartholomew commemorating the killing of tens of thousands of French Protestants. The Pope ordered a Te Deum to be sung as a special thanksgiving (a practice continued for many years after) and had a medal struck with the motto Ugonottorum Strages 1572 (Latin for “Slaughter of the Huguenots”) showing an angel bearing a cross and sword next to slaughtered Protestants.

If my eyes see a Catholic Church, a Knights of Columbus symbol, a statue of Mary or a Catholic crucifix-rosary then perhaps I should say these symbols are offensive because they represent the persecution and the wrongs done to my family (ancestors) by the Catholic Church. Then perhaps I should continue to say that these symbols must be removed and I shouldn’t have to be offended by the icons of a past persecuting Catholic Church. Is it my right therefore to have them removed?

You know I don’t buy into the idea that I should ask my Catholic neighbors to remove their symbols. Everyone has a perspective of what is beautiful and meaningful to them and what is not. Its “cool” to have Catholics who hold in reverence their Catholic symbols. A lady who was my neighbor as I was growing up was a Roman Catholic and I remember in her home symbols of her faith; of paintings of the bleeding heart of Jesus, priests, and several crosses blessed by the Pope. She spent a lot of time with me and I really loved that dear sweet lady.

My family (ancestors) died and suffered for their Christian beliefs. To this day most of them still maintain their Protestant theology and heritage. Today most of the Guerrants are members of The Presbyterian Church (Calvinists). That’s my story. But my story continues.

My point is that Confederate flags are historical symbols of my heritage. Quite simply said, men, women and children died for what they believed in by supporting the Confederate States of America, and the Confederate flag represents what they supported. Why can’t we, you and I, agree that we have differences and show some mutual respect to what we find meaningful in our lives, and then together equally display statues, crosses, and flags that we hold dear.


Emerson Roy Guerrant

One thought on “Letter to the Editor: Showing tolerance and mutual respect for other people’s symbols

  • Tim Forkes
    July 20, 2015 at 3:37 PM

    One thing you neglect here: We do not have to see symbols of the Catholic regime on our public buildings, i.e., state houses, capitals, etc. The symbol of treason and racism, the Confederate Battle Flag, is being removed from these government buildings.
    Individuals are still free to wave and display the Confederate flag as much as they like, just like Catholics and other Christian denominations are free to display their religious symbols. Muslims probably not so much. That’s the popular bigotry going round now. But that’s a different issue.
    I say, if you want to celebrate the treasonous and racist past that the Confederate Battle Flag represents, by all means do so.

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