When I became a member of the CRA, there were very profound reasons why I joined. Reasons, such as wonderful friends, loving family environment, and supportive like-minded individuals are plenty for joining any organization. Educated, intuitive people, dedicated to doing what is right, come by the bucket loads in this organization and I genuinely enjoy visiting and learning from them. With the extensive hard work and dedication to participate in this organization, not to mention a certain amount of passion and self-motivation, what makes the CRA right for me and why did I join?
I suppose the first place to visit, when evaluating such a decision, would be deeply understanding why one feels or believes the way they do. For instance, why is anger, annoyance, and/or frustration common emotions when hearing the statement “the Confederate flag is a symbol of racism.” I spent a great deal of time analyzing this feeling, for myself, to describe it out loud. Believe it or not, this task was more complicated than it appears. I was once asked, what that flag meant to me and what I thought of when looking at it. Now, I could have stood there and spit “heritage, not hate” until I was blue in the face. For most, this rebuttal rings with truth and it seems to be the most popular of statements, but I don’t really feel like that statement accurately applies to me. One of my parents was adopted and has no record of any family prior and my other parents’ family was from Tennessee, but not recorded far enough back to really know for sure, to my knowledge. Honestly, for me personally, the first thing that comes to mind is the major swing toward progression. I see a reminder of what it cost and all the thousands of lives that were lost, before and after, to get where we are today as a nation. To me, the confederate flag is a symbol of bravery and valor that inspires me to have the courage to stand up for what I believe to be right. Encouraging me to carry a voice for all those who laid their lives in the line, no matter what side they were standing on. Keeping in mind that when those lines were drawn, most were standing across from dear friends and close family. Even so, they all knew deep down in their hearts that they were standing on the right side. After all is considered, I conclude that my devotion comes from somewhere deeper than just the phrase “heritage, not hate.”
After careful and extensive evaluation of my views and opinions, I needed to have a set of goals that I wish to achieve. So, what are my goals? First off, education is the most important. I want to educate those who wish to learn. We need to know our history, our rights, and the options we have when anybody tries to use them against us. I want to protect the accurate history. I have dedicated several years to questioning everything anybody tells me and finding my own answers in research. I had a college professor ask me if I believed him because I knew that was the right answer or if my belief came the fact that he was a teacher. I have questioned everything since. In my research, there are things that I have found that I’m not overly proud of, but everybody has those chapters. I have, also, come across areas that have been masked or over exaggerated and even spent time and effort researching resources for beliefs different than mine. I feel that if you are going to be passionate about something, you should know everything there is to know about that topic, inside and out. I wish to protect the monuments. All monuments. These memorials tell a story of our history, good and bad. Where we come from and the decisions that made us. The monuments are dedicated to the ones we lost, and the ones spoke up for those who could not find a voice of their own. I want to be a voice. A voice that spreads truth and knowledge. I wish to change the image. Now, don’t laugh. I know that is a major shot in the dark, but I have great aim. Someday, I want our emblem to be a symbol for trust and understanding as opposed to white supremacy. I want people, from all walks of life, to feel comfortable in a room with someone wearing a CRA jacket or shirt. I want the general public to know we are kind, educated, generous group of individuals who will support the constitution and protect them regardless of what they look like or where they come from. One day, I hope to see the confederate flag as an important part of history rather than slavery or racism. It’s a pipe dream maybe, but one that I would be willing to strive for. That is the goal for me.
For the big question. Does the CRA hold a platform strong enough for me to achieve my goals? Absolutely! Without a doubt in my mind, I can full heartedly carry out decisions that would lead down all the right paths. I trust these people and the leaders with my life. I trust that we are making a difference even when it is hard to see sometimes. Small changes grow into big ones like ripples in a calm pond. Our actions will carry over generations. One day, what we have accomplished will matter. Someday, we will change the image. Why me? Why join the CRA? The passion and dedication to making that difference expressed by the members, and the path that is being laid out in front of the organization is the reason I joined. Why did you?
— Randie, a Life Member of the Confederate Riders of America