CRESTVIEW — After an hour and a half of often impassioned addresses before the Crestview City Council, city leaders adjourned without discussion regarding the "Uncle Bill" Lundy memorial.
At issue was the Confederate battle flag flying above the memorial on city-owned land at the intersection of First Street and State Road 85.
Several Tallahassee-based Sons of Confederate Veterans representatives praised Lundy's service in the Confederacy, which some historians have questioned.
Bob Hurst, commander of the organization's Florida division, said the battle flag is an integral component of the memorial.
"It is not fitting and proper to honor Uncle Bill Lundy and not have the flag that he honored and revered," Hurst said.
"It is not a sign of evil," he said. "It is not a symbol of anything bad. It is a symbol of a group of people who fought for their honor and independence."
Speakers who oppose displaying the flag were exclusively from Crestview.
"I believe it is time for the Confederate flag to be lowered and stored away with other items of the time. A museum is a suitable place for it," Okaloosa NAACP President Raymond Nelson said, reading from a letter sent by former president Sabu Williams.
Nelson compared the Confederate battle flag's symbolism to the Nazi swastika and SS runes.
"These symbols have been associated with racial superiority and intimidation," Nelson said. "Allowing it to remain on the streets sends a clear message to the people of Crestview that the leaders of our city couldn't care less about their citizens."
Lundy's great-granddaughter, Cheryl Ferdon, countered their arguments, saying feelings about the flag are "just a matter of perspective."
"Unfortunately, a lot of bad groups have taken that flag and used it in a derogatory manner in the past," she said.
Bill Lee, who identified himself as a descendant of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee, questioned whether the battle flag is the correct banner for the Lundy monument at all.
"The flag that flies over the Lundy memorial is the flag of Northern Virginia," he said. "My point is this, that the flag that flies over the memorial is not the flag of the Confederate States."
Community activist Mae Retha Coleman cited census data that suggest Lundy wasn't old enough to have served in the Civil War. She suggested removing the entire monument until the historic questions are resolved.
"I am still trying to figure out how a five-year-old boy can be in the service. I'd like to see us get this straight," Coleman said. "Was he really in the service? Until we find out, I want all of it moved, flag and all."
After the public comment period, Council President Robyn Helt called for fellow council members' action. When no discussion ensued, she gaveled the meeting closed.
Several residents were upset by the lack of action as Crestview policemen and county sheriff's deputies immediately escorted the council members out a side door.
"They allowed all those people to speak for nothing," former councilman Charles Baugh Jr. said. "They did a bad job tonight."