I was on vacation when, to my disgust, I read on Facebook that the Belleville Police Department was removing the American flag from police uniforms. This news was particularly offensive to me as I had just spent two days at Vicksburg, Miss., the site of one of the most important battles of the Civil War. Eighteen thousand Union soldiers lay in their final resting place at Vicksburg’s National Military Cemetery.
The largest contingent of troops there came from Southern Illinois and Missouri, lead by Gen. John A. Logan. They gave life and limb for the cause of freedom for African slaves. To think such a thing as removing the Stars and Stripes from Belleville’s police uniforms, coming from Police Chief Bill Clay, an African-American, floored me. Does he know how many German-speaking troops from the Belleville area died for the cause of freedom? Does he know Illinois supplied more soldiers (250,000) to the war than any other state? Does he know an African-American Brigade from Quincy was formed in 1864 and fought valiantly in the East and in defense of Washington, all the while carrying the American flag? In all, 178,000 African-American soldiers served in Union Army and many made the ultimate sacrifice.
Belleville Police officers are and should be proud to wear the flag on the shoulder, as a reminder of all men and women who have given us freedom. Freedom is not free and many have paid for it with their lives
William H. Bremen Sr.