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The Observer, April 15 

The Observer drove through Vicksburg, Miss., last weekend and so has had the Civil War on our minds. We asked the lady at the Visitor's Center at the Battlefield National Park if we could shorten the two-hour driving tour ? we had to get back home! ? and she said, yes, but we'd miss the Confederate side of the battle. It was an admonishment. (But boy is the Union side spectacular.)

So our ears perked when back in the office we got an e-mail from the Old State House Museum asking for a contribution to conserve two Confederate flags it's just acquired. It got the flags in a swap with the Missouri State Museum; turns out we had a flag they wanted and they had two we wanted.

One is a variation of the Confederate Second National Flag, flown by the 6th and 7th Arkansas Infantry Regiments of the Confederate Army of Tennessee and bearing the words “Shiloh,” “Perryville,” and “Murfreesboro.” The other is a Confederate First National pattern, representing Hart's Battery, which fought at the battle of Elk Horn Tavern in Pea Ridge and was captured at the battle of Arkansas Post in 1863. Battery members were freed in a prisoner of war exchange and reorganized to fight again.

The museum will open a four-year program to mark the American Civil War Sesquicentennial next year and hopes to have the flags conserved by 2012. It's going to cost $25,881 to clean and stabilize the flags. Call the museum at 324-9685 to find out how to contribute.


So yes, The Observer
has gotten a little flag-happy of late. Last week in this column we passed along a request from an Air Force master sergeant in Afghanistan (and native of Cabot) for 3-by-5 Old Glories. Master Sgt. Bubba Beason wants to put them on helicopters used to deliver school supplies to Afghan schools. Then he wants to send those flags back to the folks stateside who contributed the supplies.

Arkansas Flag and Banner writes to say it's discounted its 3-by-5 flags ($27.95, reduced from $41.10) and if you come in to buy one, it will match your flag with its own flag donation to the Beason project. Just mention who you're buying the flag for.

No one can say The Observer isn't a patriot.


“Government is not the problem,” Ronald Reagan or somebody said. “Government is the solution.”

How true, as The Observer has just relearned. Through some oversight, the telephone company had failed to deliver new telephone directories to either The Observer's residence or workplace. The directories were due in February. The Observer tried to notify someone at the phone company, but ran into a bane of our modern, high-tech world, which is that humans aren't allowed to talk to humans anymore. The Observer was bounced from one recorded message to another without receiving satisfaction.

Finally, we called the state Public Service Commission and spoke with the Commission's executive director, John Bethel. Mr. Bethel had received his new directories at home and at work, and he said he'd do what he could to help us get ours.
Within a few hours, we received a call from a phone company executive. The next day, we had our phone books. Democracy in action. Bethel for governor.


When The Observer complained to a friend the other day that his physician had ordered him away from liver and broccoli, the friend said, “Who's your doctor?” Finding out won't do him any good. It happens that The Observer likes liver and broccoli, and doctors follow one iron-clad rule in prescribing dietary restrictions: Find out what the patient likes to eat, and forbid him to eat it. Our friend will probably be denied everything except liver and broccoli.

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