A New Jersey man noticed Gadsden flag merchandise for sale at Gettysburg National Military Park’s bookstore and then went off on a three-alarm tear:
“It isn’t sold in a historically relevant context,” said Paul Gioni, a battlefield enthusiast from Mahwah, N.J., who contacted the National Park Service and The Evening Sun after visiting the park recently. “This is blatantly political merchandise.”
The nonprofit Gettysburg Foundation operates the bookstore and a spokeswoman said the Gadsden flag merchandise serves a goal of representing the broader context of American history. Furthermore, Cindy Small said, there remain connections between the Gadsden flag and fighting at Gettysburg.
“During the Civil War, the flag was used in some Southern states as a symbol of secession,” she said.
“The flag is legitimate in the proper context,” Gioni said. “The problem is this flag has been hijacked for the political stage. It’s definitely partisan and definitely inappropriate. The park should be politically neutral.”
Look, when it comes to historic sites, the Gadsden flag is pretty neutral. Unless you’re a monarchist.
Gioni doesn’t believe the Gettysburg bookstore is pushing partisan politics. Rather, he said, the items are probably stocked because they sell.
I think that’s a safe bet. Stores usually stock items because they sell.
“When you’re in an election year, you know this stuff is going to make a fast buck,” he said. “They’re disregarding what’s appropriate in the interest of money.”
The folks at Gettysburg denied any intention of pandering to present-day politics, and I don’t see any reason not to believe them. In any case, GNMP has only gotten one complaint about the Gadsden merch. So I’m not saying it’s just you, Gioni, but…it’s just you.