There can be no doubt that the tragedy at the Emanuel AME Church on June 17 was horrific and painful, not just for family and friends, but for all of us. It sent shock waves out across the country and we all asked why. But I was proud of Charleston, proud of those who lost family and spoke only of forgiveness. These people are the real leaders, the ones you want to call friends.

Those who suffered losses were barely beginning to grieve when the crude and rude protestors were out in force demanding the Confederate flags be taken down.

Some say the flag represents slavery and hatred and racism. Those ideas represent only ignorance of real history. They don’t know that blacks and whites fought side by side in the War Between the States.

They don’t know that the war was begun because the North was placing horrendous economic pressures on the South. And that slavery only became an issue in 1863 with Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation.

The Confederate flag is a significant part of our history, our heritage. It is part of who we are. It is a symbol of some 650,000 lost lives — North and South. It reminds us what happens when cool heads don’t prevail.

Take away this symbol and we all lose. And those who demand that it come down will not stop here. They will come after our statues, street names. They won’t stop.

Dick Whitfield

Salt Wind Way

Mount Pleasant