Michael D. Stringer – “Optics and words matter in every situation… The American flag means various things to myriad people, not all are positive.” Update as of 9/20/22: Salisbury City Council voted in favor of a flag in Bell Tower Park. Council’s decision now goes back to the original Bell Tower Green Inc. for notice to proceed per Council’s vote or further talks to work out an agreement. This continuing process is part of the agreement made between the City and BTG when the park was given to Salisbury.  

I highly recommend not putting a flag at the entrance to Bell Tower Green Park. Leave the park as an apolitical space for all. I visit the park regularly and walk to Hap’s for two dogs and a Cheerwine. Returning, I sit facing the waterfall and enjoy the sites.

MAGA extremists have co-opted both the American flag and the word patriotism. Optics and words matter in every situation. The protesters were standing within 50 ft of an American flag, at the county administration building it is visible from every angle. Yet they insist on having another flag at the entrance to the park. The American flag means

various things to myriad people, not all are positive. The flag was used as a weapon at

the attempted coup’ de ta. Defeated Donnie Trump is often seen hugging and kissing the flag. The American flag was flown over slavery and Jim Crow. For over two hundred

years was and is the symbol of the American apartheid system.

If we are going to begin erecting flags, then why not erect a memorial to the Africans who were enslaved and built the wealth of Salisbury? The enslaved in Rowan County were owned by merchants and bankers in Salisbury and leased to farmers. Where is mention of this contribution at the park? Just outside the boundaries of the park stands the law office where Andrew Jackson learned law and began the ideological formation for the Trail of Tears. On the other edge of the park is Maxwell Chambers’ home, a prominent enslaver in the southeast. Once we start down the road of symbolism as the commission stated, where do we stop?

Michael D. Stringer, Retired Military