Relationships prove valuable in getting quick attention for Military Park

Published 7:15 pm Friday, March 6, 2020

Mayor George Flaggs Jr. often uses the line “relationships matter” when there are those who question or want to discuss further his trips to Washington D.C., his appearances with President Trump, his efforts to elect Gov. Tate Reeves and working relationships with other top Republicans.

The questions and discussions are often sparked by Flaggs’ leadership roles while serving in the then Democrat-controlled Mississippi Legislature and the years running for political office as a card-carrying, flag-bearing member of the Democratic party.

Today, as a declared Independent, Flaggs is a pragmatist. Democrats no longer control the Mississippi House or Senate. Democrats no longer hold any constitutional office in Mississippi, and with the lone-exception of U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson, a congressman who has found it hard to garner voter support in Warren County, there is not a Democrat representing Mississippi in Washington.

So what is a mayor — who oversees a city with huge federal government connections — to do? Build relationships.

Those relationships have proved tremendously beneficial to Vicksburg in recent years. And, more recently, it has helped get quick attention to the plight and significant damage at the Vicksburg National Military Park and the Vicksburg National Cemetery.

During an already scheduled visit by U.S. Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith for a naming ceremony at the Mississippi Center for Innovation & Technology in honor of former U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran, city and economic leaders were able to have the senator see first hand the damage at the park. After her visit, she commented getting the repairs made quickly was a top priority.

That commitment, followed by a letter the following Monday by Flaggs to President Trump, helped fuel the fire.

Today, the damage at the park and need for immediate repairs is being handled at the highest levels of our government; the Secretary of the Interior is aware of the problem and working it, and Trump’s office is believed to be asking for regular updates as well.

While it is true that the relationships built by local leaders and those at the state and federal level are important, it is also important to note just how valuable and crucial the Vicksburg National Military Park is — not just to our local tourism industry but to the history of our country. It is hallowed ground and that alone draws attention. It is our hope the attention it brings not only repairs the damage but provides needed investments in the park to protect it and preserve it for another 160 years.

Vicksburg is a known commodity by key leaders in key places and when it comes to the problems we face, the challenges we look to overcome, it is important to remember that “relationships matter.”