Mayor Bill Wuttke and Gettysburg City Council:
I have always been proud to let people know that I am from Gettysburg, SD. If they are from out of state of course, they think immediately of Gettysburg, PA and if they are in state, they may know of Gettysburg or they will make a reference to Geddes and I will quickly correct them and say “no, Gettysburg; you know, the Battlers.”
A big part of my business is getting to know people and learn a little bit about them and conversely, letting them know a little bit about me. I have always thought it was a positive to mention where I was brought up as I have never had anything but positive feedback about my hometown. Not so much any longer. In fact, I have been getting my share of negative feedback from those who know me and although I know some of it is said in jest, there is an underlying message that is not difficult to interpret.
Having spent most of my adolescence and formative years in Gettysburg, I think of the kindness and compassion that I felt so often from so many in the community. You know the saying, “it takes a village.” Well, Gettysburg was that village. I think of Ep Sieler, Gordon Jensen, Shirley Vail, Jim Cameron and so many others, from school teachers and administrators to parents simply doing their best to raise their children in the best manner possible molding them to grow up to be fair and honest and trustworthy and not judge people by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.
Quoting a Bob Dylan song, “these times, they are a changing,” I think it is time to get on the right side of history. Yes, there may have been a time when one could say that the confederate symbol was something that needed to be preserved, simply as a part of our history, and not a proud and righteous history. The proper place to preserve this symbol is in museums where the story can be told with the hope that this period in our past is never repeated.
The symbol now stands for treason, racism, slavery and white supremacy and should not be on display on any law enforcement group and certainly, not on the uniform of the police officers in my hometown. I don’t believe after the Nazis were defeated that the Nazi symbol was every in vogue as a symbol of all that is good.
I understand that we are in challenging times and the effect that Covid-19 has had on all municipalities, large and small alike and that budgets are stretched to the max, in some places. If it is a cost thing, I will be the first to get in line to help defray the cost of removing the confederate patch and developing a new patch and symbol that we can be proud of.
This is not complicated. Do the right thing. Remove it from the uniforms now and give me, and all of the others that either call Gettysburg, SD home now, or can proudly say that is where we are from the permission to continue to proudly promote and endorse this wonderful town that will always have a place in my heart.
Calvin M. Sievers
Rapid City, SD