UPDATE: East Texas veteran organization denied participation in local event
POSTED: Wednesday, March 6, 2013 - 8:42am
UPDATED: Friday, March 15, 2013 - 10:06am
Palestine, TX (KETK) — UPDATE (Wednesday, March 6th, 7:36am): Members of the Sons of Confederate Veterans organization met Monday evening to discuss how they planned to proceed after being denied participating in the upcoming Palestine Dogwood Festival on March 16th.
A member of the group tells KETK, they plan to have their own booth - seperate from those participating in the festival - a couple blocks down from the actual event.
The booth will be in a new plaza, which the group plans to dedicate in April.
ORIGINAL REPORT (Tuesday, March 5th, 5:11pm): The John H. Reagan Camp #2156 Sons of Confederate Veterans organization has been denied the option of renting a booth at the Palestine Dogwood festival, which begins on March 16th.
The Palestine area Chamber of Commerce informed the group of their decision on Monday.
KETK spoke with members of the Sons of Confederate Veterans organization, who said they were confused by the Chamber's decision not to allow them to participate in the event.
"We are a historical group," one member told KETK. "We've participated in past events without any problem."
KETK reached out to the Palestine Chamber of Commerce for an explanation as to why the group was denied participation.
The Chamber released the following statement on Tuesday:
"The Palestine Area Chamber of Commerce is FOR building a stronger community. Our volunteers spend countless hours doing so. It is not in the community's best interest to allow politically divisive groups to participate in the Dogwood Trails parade or to be a vendor at the Festival. We are charged with the responsibility to operate on behalf of the city of Palestine."
However, members of the veteran group tell KETK, they are not meant to be "politically divisive".
"There is a lot of misconception out there," one member said. "We just want to promote historical accuracy and act as educators in the community."
In the past, the group has worn re-enactment uniforms, honored gravestones of soldiers, and dedicated historical markers, which, they claim, was "all in an effort to honor the ancestors of East Texans who fought for the southern cause in the war between the states."
"Five out of the first nine mayors of Palestine were Confederate veterans," a Reagan Camp member said. "More than a thousand men from Anderson County fought in the Civil War."
The member tells KETK that, while they are still confused by the Chamber's decision, they are not looking for a fight. The group will meet on Tuesday night and make a decision on how to proceed.
"One way or another, we are going to keep on keeping on. We will try to do what our ancestors expected us to do, which is to tell history accurately and honor those who came back from the war. We want to respect those Confederate veterans who helped to build the State of Texas and Anderson County."
The Palestine Dogwood festival kicks off with a parade on March 16th.
The John H. Reagan Camp #2156 Sons of Confederate Veterans organization has many future activities planned, including the dedication of a new plaza in Palestine in April. They tell KETK that this set back with the Chamber is not expected to have a great impact on their group.