Cannon County Commissioners Adopt a New Flag

Outrage, Protest and Legal Battle Polarize the 1993 Community

On July 17, 1993, the Cannon County Commission voted unanimously to adopt an official flag with the intentions of flying it regularly on the flag pole in front of the court house.

The flag immediately became the center of controversy and after a lot of negative publicity,  on October 16, 1993, the County Commission  amended their previous action by providing for the flag to fly 362 days a year at the Confederate Monument erected by the United Daughters of the Confederacy in 1926; and directed that the flag be flown at the County Courthouse on Robert E. Lee Day (January 19), Memorial or Confederate Decoration Day (June 3) and Nathan Bedford Forrest Day (July 13), all of which are official Tennessee days of special observance.

Although I first came to Woodbury in 1993, and move there shortly after, I have never seen the flag fly from the court house. County Executive Harold Patrick  refused the commission's order to fly the flag at the courthouse because he thought tensions in the community were too high.

A judge ruled  that the action by the County Commission creating the flag and flying it would be legal after lawsuit was filed against the county by a group of residents opposing the flag.  For some, the ruling came as a relief, but others refused to give up the fight and appealed the cse losing in 1995. "It's been a frustrating experience for everybody because of the insensitivity of the county

While resting near Woodbury on July 12, 1862,  Forrest was approached by many of the female residents of Woodbury who informed the colonel that most of the town’s men had been taken prisoner the previous night by Union troops who charged them with giving aid to the Confederate army.  Forrest reassured the women that their men would be home the following night. He kept that promise.

The Tennessean , Nashville, Tennessee · August 18, 1993 -  Page 14

Confederate flag on hold until October: Importance questioned

WOODBURY A new flag incorporating the Confederate battle banner likely will not fly from a pole at the foot of the courthouse until after county commissioners meet In October to discuss it Residents who oppose inclusion of the Confederate emblem, saying the flag is racist, want it redesigned before then. Meanwhile, both sides agree attention should be focused on more serious problems plaguing the county now. "If we can't come to the middle and agree, maybe we can agree not to have a flag," County Executive Harold Patrick said yesterday. Debate over the controversial flag has ballooned since county commissioners last month adopted the flag, which depicts the stars and bars of the Confederate battle flag.

A meeting of members from the county historic preservation group, which designed the flag, commissioners, and residents opposed to the flag is to be planned this week, Patrick said.

"We'd like to talk to them face to face and get this thing resolved as quickly as possible," said Walter Alexander, spokesman for Concerned Citizens of Cannon County, a group created last week to mount opposition to the flag. The county executive listed the area's high unemployment rate, which jumped from 7.6 to 9.6 in June, and the shutdown of garment factories In the county that for so long has been dependent on that industry as issues more worthy of debate. But debate over the flag continues to fly high in the minds of many county residents.

County commissioners and historical society members appear to stand by the design. They have said the battle flag was included to honor Confederate Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest's rescue of Confederate soldiers from a Murfreesboro jail. Members of the county's small black community said if the flag is not changed they will boycott businesses that do not oppose the banner.

"I don't think that'll have any impact here," Patrick said, adding many in the county take the short drive to Murfreesboro to shop. Patrick said he has begun surveying county commissioners to see whether they want to convene a special meeting in which a vote to repeal the flag could be taken. Such a meeting appears unlikely, with some commissioners he has contacted by telephone flatly saying no to any thoughts of changing the flag. Others said they would consider a change at their Oct 16 meeting, Patrick said.

 Rescinding last month's adoption of the flag would take six votes from the 10-member commission, Patrick said.

James Simpson, a Concerned Citizens member, said he thinks the debated flag will hurt efforts by county leaders to lure more industry to the county. Patrick said he disagrees. "I don't think it will hurt industrial recruiting even if the flag is flying," Patrick said. During its heyday, the garment industry in Cannon County employed 2,000; now, with the shutdown of many factory operations, only 230 people work in the garment industry, Patrick said.

 commissioners," said Vince O'Brien, a member of Concerned Citizens of Cannon County, the group that sued to prevent the county's adoption of the flag.

"I wasn't the least bit surprised at the ruling," said attorney Mike Corley, who represented the county. "The county was well within its rights in adopting this flag, and it's an event that needs memorializing. Nathan Bedford Forrest was a noteworthy person who touched our aunty's history, and I'm proud of that fact"

The Cannon County Flag Adopted July 17, 1993

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