Lee-Jackson Park Dedicated

Lee-Jackson Park Dedicated

Photo from the video of the ceremony on the Facebook page of the Stonewall Brigade of the SCV.

Lee-Jackson Park Dedicated

A CROWD estimated at about 350 looks skyward as the 20-by-20-foot Confederate battle flag is raised 80 feet above the ground at the new Lee-Jackson Memorial Park in Fairfield Saturday. (photo courtesy of the Stonewall Brigade camp of the SCV)

Flag Raising Part Of Project’s First Phase

To the sound of bagpipes playing “The Bonnie Blue Flag” and the cheers of many in the crowd, a large Confederate battle flag was raised high above the southbound exit of Interstate 81 at Fairfield Saturday.

The raising of the flag was part of the first stage of what organizers are calling the Lee-Jackson Memorial Park, a place they hope to bring Confederate monuments removed from Southern cities in recent years and recreated Confederate monuments.

The park, which was dedicated in a ceremony Saturday, is a project of the Stonewall Brigade of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, the local SCV camp that has hosted the Lee-Jackson Day activities in Lexington for many years.

The project was announced during this past January’s Lee-Jackson Day activities on the camp’s Facebook page, after concrete plans were developed last November.

According to the proposed site plans, phase I of the project on the initial 2 acres of land calls for the construction of the large flagpole and circle, an avenue of lesser-sized flags of various units of the SCV and the park flag, and the placement of monuments already in the camp’s possession or being donated to the camp. Future phases on nearby additional land would include walking trails, an event field and eventually a family campground. All of the properties noted in the plans are between the west side of Interstate 81 and Ridge Road.

Brandon Dorsey, commander of the Stonewall Brigade of the SCV, said in an email this week, “At this point, we are not providing public access to the property, but someday plan to open the expanded area as an outdoor museum.”

Dorsey noted that Lee-Jackson Park, LLC, a subsidiary of the camp, is the actual owner of the property. The corporation has purchased two acres and has an additional 7.5 acres under contract.

A building permit was obtained from the county for the 80-foot-tall flagpole, a requirement for any flagpole that’s taller than 30 feet. Flagpoles outside the tourism corridor overlay district are exempt from any other zoning regulations, and this site is not within one of the county’s TCOs. It did have to meet setback requirements. As for the future plans for a campground and special events venue, special exception permits would be required, according to county officials.

In his remarks at Saturday’s dedication, which was livestreamed on the SCV camp’s Facebook page, Dorsey said the cleared and partially developed site they were standing on was the result of two months of work by members of the camp and surrounding camps. “And obviously, it’s a big work in progress, if you’ve seen the ambitious plans that we would like to have for this place,” he said.

Dorsey thanked the landowner of the site, Bobby Smith, who worked with the camp “to make this affordable and make this a reality.” He also thanked Jerry Burnett, the major donor for the purchase of the property.

He explained that part of the impetus for the project was the effort to find a new location for the large Confederate flag that had been erected by the Virginia Flaggers on a hillside two miles south along Interstate 81. The future of that flagpole site became ensnared in a legal dispute after the land was sold to a new owner, Dorsey said in an email this week.

Dorsey said Saturday he approached Smith about this property about a year ago. He noted that Burnett had also talked about finding a place to bring Confederate monuments that had been taken down across Virginia and other states, and so they decided to expand the flag project into a monument park project.

Dorsey said the project would be similar to a Confederate memorial park in Point Lookout, Md., next to the site of a Civil War prisoner of war camp. The Confederate memorial park in Fairfield would be the first such park in Virginia in the modern era.

In brief comments Saturday, Burnett called the Fairfield site “the promised land” and issued a call to the city of Charlottesville to “return the statues of Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson to this facility.”

Dorsey told the audience Saturday, “I think this is a turning point for us. We’ve had a lot of setbacks. I know a lot of us have been discouraged over the last few years. We’re going to fight back. We built these places [monuments], our ancestors built those places. We built them; we can build them again.

“Don’t think you’re going to come down here and take this one down,” Dorsey said, pointing to the flag, to the applause of the crowd.

Dorsey and Burnett were just two of several speakers Saturday, including the commanders of the national and state SCV and a representative of the Virginia Flaggers. Their audience consisted of an estimated 350 SCV members from different camps, donors and companion organization members, Dorsey said this week.

SCV members clad in replica Confederate uniforms provided a color guard and fired musket salutes during the ceremony. The Botetourt Artillery unit also fired salutes from the two replica cannon it had brought to the dedication.

Besides the raising of the large Confederate battle flag, participants also raised five smaller flags of SCV units and the park flag during the ceremony.

There are no monuments at the site currently, but Dorsey said this week that a monument to Confederate Col. W.H. Harman that had stood in Waynesboro will soon be placed there, along with two new life-sized statues of Lee and Jackson that are being created by an SCV member in Matthews and will be donated to the park. “We have had discussions on acquiring other endangered monuments, but noting concrete has been settled concerning those,” he said.

Dorsey said organizers also plan at some point to erect two new monuments, one dedicated to Rockbridge County soldiers and the original Stonewall Brigade, and one dedicated to the man commonly known as “Jim Lewis,” which was proposed some years ago after the local camp learned that his grave had been destroyed with the others in an old Black cemetery in Lexington. -In an email interview this week, Dorsey was asked how he would respond to those who view Confederate monuments and flags as symbols of white supremacy that are offensive to Blacks.

“My answer to that question is growing quite cynical. Those who hate our history and families for personal or political reasons have had no issue with destroying things that we love and mean something to us, so why should we care how they feel?” he responded. “They have attempted to silence us and drive us from the public square, so we have fled to the wilderness of sorts. We are reestablishing ourselves just beyond their control, but we know what spirit they are of and they will not be content even with that.”

When asked for a comment about the Fairfield project this week, the Rev. Reginald Early, president of the Rockbridge County chapter of the NAACP, responded, “The Fairfield project is a clear indication why an organization such as the NAACP continues to be needed. There are forces in the American society as well as the local community who want to dismiss people of color and all of their contributions on a local, state, national and international level. Those forces are working tirelessly to take us backwards rather than forward. One example is that of states banning teaching African American History in our schools. When the history of a people is eliminated, consequently, the very same people are eliminated. The NAACP is also working tirelessly to change the narrative.’

The News-Gazette

The News-Gazette Corp.
P.O. Box 1153
Lexington, VA 24450
(540) 463-3113

Email Us

Facebook Twitter