*I wrote the following letter to the editor for the people of De Leon, Texas after a recent visit.
Beauty reaches out and grabs you. I experience it every time. I see it. I feel it. I hear it. The land speaks. The fields sway. The sky never stops. I could go on and on. Make no mistake…De Leon is a beautiful place.
Unfortunately, everything turned ugly on our last visit. We were driving through town when we started seeing the Confederate flag everywhere. We saw the flag on houses. We saw the flag on businesses. We saw the flag on trucks. The stars and bars are unmistakable. The sting of the hate that accompanies the flag is too.
“Daddy…Why are they flying the hate flag?” Though we come from Confederate heritage, we’re not interested in continuing or promoting the racism of the past. We teach our kids what the Confederate flag means. How could we not teach them to choose love over hate?
How does a town with so many churches have so many Confederate flags? I couldn’t believe it. Was De Leon growing more racist with every visit? More than that, I suspected the town was becoming more fearful. The same scenario is repeatedly playing throughout our society.
There will be those who claim heritage. I don’t buy it. If your heritage is important to you, you should be able to find less offensive ways of showing it. We all know that the Confederate flag has been a symbol of hate for a very long time. You don’t need much knowledge of history to realize it.
As much as Jesus is talked about in De Leon, I invite you to follow him in loving all of your neighbors and tossing out those flags.
Rev. Dr. Jeff Hood