“Yes, sir, I was the last one,” Lt. Derrick Gamble said.
The last one, that is, to hold the Confederate battle flag after it was removed from a flagpole on the grounds of South Carolina’s state Capitol on Friday morning and handed over to officials to be placed in a museum.
As a member of a racially diverse seven-man state highway patrol honor guard chosen for the ceremony, the task fell to Gamble, 47, an African-American.
But for those seeking symbolism in seeing a black man being the final link in the chain to remove what is seen by many as a symbol of racism, Gamble, a 21-year veteran of the force, says it was merely a matter of seniority.
“It’s just a team thing,” Gamble told USA TODAY. “Everyone on the team could have played the role that I played. Anyone of the guys could have done it. It just happened that I was the senior person there.”
Gamble’s seniority arrived just recently, in the weeks between Friday’s flag-lowering and the state Capitol service for the Rev. Clementa Pinckney, where then-Sgt. Gamble was a pallbearer.
He was equally detached in his mind-set about that task, calling it a matter of simple duty. “I didn’t have any personal feelings there,” he said. “I was just providing a service for that family that had suffered so much.”
As for his views on the Confederate flag, he says they are irrelevant to Friday’s ritual.
“I have no feelings about that,” he said. “My mission is public safety for this great city. It was just an honor to be part of the ceremony.”
SOURCE: Matthew Diebel