STEVENSBURG—A grassroots group of Culpeper County residents visited Lenn Park on a rainy Saturday to participate in a simple exercise of appreciation to the two brothers, now in their 90s, who made a past donation of 85 acres to create the well-visited and well-outfitted park.
Culpeper native Amy Hunter organized the get-together with former Culpeper History Museum Director Zann Nelson. She had red-white-and-blue signs fashioned stating, “THANK YOU LENN BROTHERS! FROM A GRATEFUL CULPEPER COMMUNITY.” A Good Citizenship Medal was also presented.
The Lenns did not attend the presentation, and they did not respond to a request Monday by the Star-Exponent for comment. The medal and a photo of the group with the signs will be sent in the mail, the group said Saturday.
Those present Saturday, including Joe and Linda Daniel, Howard Lambert, Ed and Marilyn Dunphy, Annette Hyde and Keith Price, wanted the brothers to know they appreciate them for donating the land.
Wayne, Edwin and Kaye Lenn made the donation of their farmland in 2006 to the county, which has continued to collaborate with the family in ensuing years to make the park what it is today with its many amenities.
According to Kaye Lenn in a recent Star-Exponent interview, the brothers have donated hundreds of thousands of additional dollars to develop the park’s ball fields, playgrounds and the pavilion and bandstand.
The park earned national attention in recent weeks for the Confederate battle flag that used to fly over it. Hunter started a petition for the flag to be removed, reviving an issue that had been the subject of a petition to the county in 2015 for the flag to be taken down.
Weeks later the flag was stolen and the pole broken by an unidentified man captured on sheriff’s office surveillance video by dark of night. The following day different intruders who refused to give their names put up a new Confederate flag on the remaining pole, flying below the U.S. flag.
The day after that, both flags were removed and the remaining pole as well, along with the cement foundations of both poles. The Lenn brothers, who put up the flag in 2001 as part of a historic display at the Civil War site, have not put it back up.
For that, some in the community are grateful, as was expressed at Saturday’s event. Some in the group felt county officials mistreated the brothers in how the situation was handled, saying documents were possibly falsified to make it seem like the brothers still owned the parcel with the Confederate flag.
Gary Deal, chairman of the Culpeper County Board of Supervisors, said Monday he thanks the Lenn brothers for their decision and is “proud the flag is down on my watch as chairman of the board. I feel good about that.”
Culpeper Town Councilman Keith Price said in an email to the Star-Exponent Monday that the Saturday ceremony was a very nice event, and it was "good to see folks honoring the Lenns after the pressure they have been under from both sides recently."
Price added that he is glad the rest of the display is still at the park, referring to a small memorial to Confederate Capt. William Downs Farley who, according to the Lenns, was mortally wounded there during the opening phase of the Battle of Brandy Station on June 9, 1863.
“Amy was the one that put all of this together,” Nelson said Saturday, during the ceremony sheltered from the rain in the large park pavilion. “It’s not just about taking down the flag, but saying thank you for the park.”
Hunter called it “a duty” to try and remove the flag she and many others consider a symbol of white oppression and hate.
“I had to do it,” she said on Saturday in the pavilion with her husband, Dana. “It was needed. I wanted to thank the Lenn brothers for everything they have done over the years. This is a great park for families to come and visit regardless of their race or background. We are very thankful for what they have done.”
The Culpeper Minutemen Chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution was on site for their monthly meeting. The history group participated in thanking the Lenns with a presentation of the SAR Bronze Good Citizenship Award and medal given to people making the community better, said Minutemen Tom Hammill. Minutemen President Charles Jameson said he hoped to thank the Lenns personally for doing more than county officials ever did related to the park and the flag issue.
“Thank you for making all people feel welcome here,” he said.