Martin followed heart on flag issue

By Ben Robinson
Staff Reporter

COLUMBIA — As Sen. Larry Martin struggled with the question of whether the Confederate flag should be removed from Statehouse grounds, he looked back at Southern Civil War legends Gen. Robert E. Lee and Gen. Wade Hampton.

“They felt the Confederate flag should have been put away in a place of respect after the Civil War,” Martin said. “They were intent on trying to bring the country back together.”
Martin said further research showed that for many years homes in the South honored the opinion of the two military figures.

“They wanted us to stand united and strong,” Martin said.
But over the years, the symbol of the Confederate flag was used by some as a symbol of hate. That includes Dylann Roof, who posed with the flag in photos that surfaced on the Internet in the days after he was accused of shooting killing nine black worshipers at a Charleston church last month.

Martin said his roots in the South initially caused him to stand with others supporting the flag being displayed on Statehouse grounds, but he eventually came to the opinion that the flag was a roadblock to progress in the Palmetto State.

“I think our ancestors wanted those symbols put away,” Martin said. “I don’t think it honors our ancestors to argue over this, especially when you see thing like a Ku Klux Klan rally on Statehouse grounds.

Martin said he was impressed with the amount of class the black community showed in the aftermath of the shooting.
“On a spiritual level, I was moved by the victims families’ response, showing grace, mercy and forgiveness,” Martin said. “The outpouring of love and forgiveness demands a response.”
Martin said the number of cars traveling with Confederate flags flying does not bother him.

“That’s their right, their own property,” Martin said, “But to fly the flag on Statehouse grounds is another thing.”
Martin dismissed reports that television networks wanted to alter Dukes of Hazzard reruns to edit display of the main characters’ famous Confederate flag-emblazoned car, the General Lee.

“That’s TV, and they will do what they want to do,” Martin said. “But I feel the best way to honor Southern ancestors is to put a stop to the hatred associated with the flag.”