Stew Lilker’s

Columbia County Observer

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In Light of Parkland Mass Shooting
Columbia County 5 Refuses to Ask for Cease Fire 

COLUMBIA COUNTY, FL –  Another senseless act of gun violence, another mass shooting, has gripped the country and the world's attention. This weekend, Columbia County again celebrates the victory of the South over the North at its annual Olustee Festival and Battle Reenactment. Last night, your reporter and publisher asked one of the Festival-Battle Reenactment's sponsors, the County Commission (the Columbia County 5) to ask the warring parties to not shoot it out, but to lay down their guns in respect for the victims of the Parkland shooting – a cease fire.

Over time, the County has been watching other reenactments cancelled and one commissioner has advised that he will not be exhibiting at this year's festival.

The County Tourist Development Council (TDC) recently removed from its conference room all its Olustee posters. The walls were papered with them. The TDC is not putting them back.

According to TDC Director Paula Vann, the TDC is not re-hanging the posters because the County Economic Development Department uses the conference room and "some people who aren’t from here [coming from out of town] might not understand and get the wrong impression."

For those not accustomed to the Southern Culture, it can be difficult to understand.

Years ago, shortly after becoming City Manager, Wendell Johnson, a Deep South lifelong southerner, told your reporter, "I'm southern and I'm proud. I lost relatives in the war [Civil War]."

That discussion revolved around changing the City logo, which then featured the Confederate Battle Flag. Eventually, Mr. Johnson had a change of heart, or at least mind, and recognized that the world was changing.

The City changed its logo.

The infamous Columbia County 5 remains stuck in the past and didn't raise an eyebrow regarding the cease fire.

Parkland and the unimaginable grief in that community are only a 5 hour drive from Lake City. The sound of Sunday's Olustee gunshots won't travel to Parkland, but Columbia County's thoughts and intentions will travel to Parkland and far beyond.

It is not too late.

At least for this weekend, the North-South combatants should lay down their arms.

The Columbia County 5, and the community's leaders, can still call for a cease fire at this year's Olustee Battle Reenactment and recognition that the sounds of gun fire, people blowing each other's brains out, and government sponsored killing and gun violence are not appropriate this year.

The war ended 153 years ago.

A sign of change would be calling for a permanent cease fire.

Comments  (to add a comment go here)

On Feb. 18, 2018 C from Tampa wrote:

I think a request to hold a "cease fire" and not re-enact the Battle of Olustee this year is completely appropriate in light of the heartbreaking massacre in Parkland.

I understand that our history is a part of our culture, and that guns have a place in that culture when properly acquired and used. One of my relatives died fighting for the south in the Civil War. He died fighting for what he believed in, but that was then and this is now.

This is a time to be sensitive to those who are mourning the loss of loved ones destroyed by gun violence. I think the whole country is in mourning right now.

Maybe it's time to re-think "how things have always been done."


On Feb. 17, 2018 Earl Green wrote:

The world doesn't stop for tragedy, this re-enactment has nothing to do with what happened. The usual attempt to push an agenda using a tragedy, This is an attempt for liberals to get a foot in the door to stop it permanently. If it ever gets stopped once we will never get it back

We all sorrow for the families and students pray for comfort

The problem stems from liberal agendas and mind sets, I went to school with weapons in my truck, no one was ever shot, the only thing that has changed is the teaching of morals, the discipline of children and a submissive and permissive society

The destruction of our standards creating a entitlement mindset

The effect of not eliminating the problems, making examples of criminals, you kill you die within a year, simple, many will get the picture

Allow law enforcement to do their job, do away with technical loop holes that set this cancerous element free Taking away the weapons of law abiding citizens is a foolish and stupid consideration, leaving all at the mercy of criminals and over reaching power hungry politicians

We have already seen the damage that has been done to this country through the last 4 administrations, Not just presidents but a bought off Congress, elected year after year by uniformed and blind party loyalty

Bending over for everything thing is not going to change anything
Stand our ground against the agenda of Liberalism

We pray for the victims of the shooting, and move to eradicate the elements that really caused this tragedy

Earl Green
(Sent from my iPhone)


On Feb. 17, 2018 Neil Miles wrote:

You sir are typical of those that wish to destroy all things Southern. Your liberal left wing one sided hatred of others that don't think like how you think they should is most evident.

How one can link a school shooting to a Civil War battle of 153 years ago is very much of a stretch by any reasonable  persons thinking. And what I mean by that statement is someone who is able to have an unbiased and objective mind which from your articles does not seem to be the case.

Yes, as you mentioned in your article, we Southerners are extremely proud of our heritage, unlike many other parts of the county and why; because when we legally separated from a county that had become overbearing we were invaded, beaten down and held for years after as a conquered people. Is it any wonder we hold a different and as you infer a more prouder outlook than the other portions of our nation? We endured much greater hardships than any other section of the country so it is reasonable to assume we think differently here.

Now as-to your article as to a ceasefire. Yes we are Just a five hour ride to where the school shooting happened, which I am having a hard time understanding how mileage has anything remotely to do with this. Yes what happened was horrific, yet how you can lay a guilt trip on an Arts and Crafts Festival (Cause for in truth that's all it is) it mind boggling to my thinking. Sir, do you really reveal your liberal far left anti Southern feelings I feel so sorry for you.

Neil Miles
A proud American


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