Time to get on the right side of history

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. 

Sincerely, 

Calvin M. Sievers

Rapid City, SD

5 responses to “Time to get on the right side of history”

  1. Jim Rieger says:

    I disagree. It’s a history thing and that’s popular culture right now. There is no malice or racism intended. I hope the city council stands firm if for no reason other than they don’t need outside influences telling what to think. Let the townspeople and the council decide. It’s THEIR town. We could use the “I’m offended” tag about everything and many people do these days. I’m offended that cities let themselves be looted and burned with out doing anything. I’m offended that about many PC (politically correct) . Don’t get me wrong, I do believe in racial equality and working hard and doing things the right way. Maybe in our own way we can each ch nge the world for the better

  2. Bruce meyer says:

    I would think the police would be the first ones to object to having the Confederate flag on their sleeve. If they don’t I’ve got to wonder why. There may be other explanations but racism is the one that first comes to mind. It’s not a good look.

  3. John G. White says:

    Calvin Sievers has written an excellent letter. I find it sad that a symbol of treason has made its way north, and is even part of a patch that is worn supposedly by those who are have sworn publicly to “serve and protect.” This is not the image of what I would think the residents of Gettysburg, or I would hope the majority of them, would want their children as well as outsiders to think of their community.

  4. Greg Mellang says:

    Well written letter, Calvin! and I agree wholeheartedly.

    It’s time to retire the patch and logo.

    Sincerely,
    Greg Mellang
    Cambridge, MN

  5. James C. Patterson says:

    The appearance of the Confederate flag AND the U. S.
    flag on the Gettysburg, SD shoulder patch was adopted
    years ago as a symbol of reconciliation between the North and South. The ability to recognize that both sides
    suffered and that past differences should be set aside was inherent.

    A new way of thinking has taken root in which history is subject to revision depending on current fashion, politics,
    and lynch mob hysteria. That in my opinion is far more
    dangerous than the possibility of offending someone who may or may not have had ancestors on either side
    of the American Civil War.

    To rip out pages of history, destroy monuments, and to
    disparage those who would dare resist such mob action
    Is in my opinion quite un-American and a dangerous path to follow.

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