Tea Partiers claimed the flag represents a part of New Mexico's history, others say it's simply offensive. (Photo : REUTERS)
Backlash from a controversially decorated Tea Party parade float continues in Las Cruces, New Mexico this week with comments from the city's mayor. When the Las Cruces Tea Party flew a Confederate flag on their Fourth of July parade float, several parade-goers took offense, as did Mayor Ken Miyagishima. He has released this statement:
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"The Las Cruces Tea Party can believe whatever it wants but to have this symbol and what it represents highlighting our winning float at a celebration of our nation's independence is an outrage. I deeply apologize to the people of Las Cruces as well as our friends throughout the state of New Mexico for the pain that this has caused. I can assure you that we will thoroughly review the rules and procedures for next year's parade to make sure that this never happens again."
Interestingly, the Tea Partiers won first prize and $1,000 in the float contest. They defended their choice to include the flag with a statement of their own.
"The theme of the parade was the history of the state of New Mexico. There was a lot of history that defined our state prior to 1912. We showed how we fought for our statehood and the sacrifices we made along the way, along with our triumphs," they wrote.
"Before the Mayor complained so loudly perhaps he should consult the historical records of our state to see why it is there. We cannot rewrite history. It has already happened. All we can do is give an honest and complete replay to those who are interested."
History buffs - here's what the New Mexico Genealogical Society had to say about New Mexico's role in the Civil War, with a quick mention of the flag in question:
"New Mexico played a small but significant role in the Civil War...On February 12,1862, Union troops, reinforced by several battalions of New Mexico militia, engaged the Texans at Valverde, north of Fort Craig. When the smoke cleared from the battlefield, the Union forces had withdrawn behind the protective walls of the fort, leaving the Confederates the apparent victors. But the southern troops were unable to mount a siege of the fort, and instead, continued their march north, short of supplies, and with a strong Union force threatening their rear.
As the Confederate forces approached Santa Fe in early March, New Mexico Governor Henry Connelly and the Union troops at Fort Marcy evacuated the capital and relocated the executive offices to Las Vegas. They also moved the military supplies and equipment from Fort Marcy to safety at Fort Union. On March 10, a scouting party of southern troops entered the evacuated capital, and for more than two weeks, the Confederate flag flew over the ancient Palace of the Governors.
The pivotal battle of the Civil War in New Mexico began on March 26, 1862, when Union troops from Fort Union, volunteers from Colorado, and New Mexico militia, confronted the Confederate army at Apache Canyon east of Santa Fe. For three days, they vied for control of this strategic pass, until a Union raiding party penetrated to the rear of the Confederate positions and destroyed their supply train. Desperately short of supplies, the Texans were forced to retreat, ending the southern threat to New Mexico."