Saturday, July 26, 2014
During the Civil War, on this day in 1864, Union miners were tunneling under Confederate trenches in Petersburg, Virginia. They would pack the tunnel with explosives, creating one of the more memorable moments in a war full of them, the "Battle of the Crater."
In Lexington -- about 160 miles west and 150 years later -- there's not really a battle so much as a testy debate. Washington and Lee University -- the final home, job and resting place of Robert E. Lee -- decided recently to remove the Confederate battle flags that had been displayed around a sculpture of the Southern leader in Lee Chapel, the location of his tomb. The move came after a protest letter from a group of law students at the university, a letter that contained a number of other demands, most of which were aimed at reducing the near-saintly status of Lee at the institution.
This brought out protesters, inspired by an ongoing battle over the flag and its display in Lexington.
A rally like that is something I could not resist as a photographer.
Living historian David Chaltas, who does an interpretation of Lee ("I won't speak as Lee here," he told me, gesturing to indicate Lexington), was one of a number of speakers, most from the Sons of Confederate Veterans. He explained that he had ancestors on both sides of the war. "I'm equally proud of both."
Brandon Dorsey, commander of the local SCV chapter that organized the rally, acted as the master of ceremonies.
"It's not about a few flags in a small chapel in Lexington, Virginia," said another speaker, Frank Earnest, a past commander of the SCV Virginia Division, in a quote that summarized for me why many were willing to turn out for the rally. "They want to change the whole structure of the United States of America."
Wayne Jones, who passed me his card after I shot this portrait, describing himself "in the persona of JEB (James Ewell Brown) Stuart."
I left the rally, proceeding in its amiable way, to return home for lunch. Such is the way of protest in Lexington ...
Saturday, July 12, 2014
Saturday, July 5, 2014
Once upon a time, while covering the Miss Virginia pageant -- it's held every year in Roanoke, choosing Virginia's contestant to go to the Miss America competition -- I thought it would be interesting to do a photo project (or a film, but I think it might be more fun with stills) called "Being Miss Virginia." The story would start in the wings as the new Miss Virginia is crowned, and then would follow her through all her official duties and obligations (not so much focused on the national pageant as the appearances and charity events, etc., that go on throughout the year) and what it takes to keep it up (it's really a job like any other). At the end, we would be in the wings again with our Miss Virginia, waiting to crown the next to hold the title.
This year's pageant just ended, and the new Miss Virginia came on our show the morning after. These behind-the-scenes pictures capture a little of what I was thinking ...