Picture 2

Picture 2

Jun 21, 2015

Confederate Battle Flag is Not Appropriate on State Capitol Grounds

A recent article by David French discussed the Confederate Battle Flag that flies over the Confederate war memorial on the state capitol grounds in Columbia, South Carolina.  Mr. French discusses the subject from the point of view of his Virginia family, which fought in the American Revolution, the Confederate Army, and most of America's wars since.  My family history starts early in Virginia, similarly to Mr. French's, then veers off. My ancestors from Virginia fought in the French and Indian War, where one of them served with Col. Washington, as well as the American Revolution. However, they decided that slavery was wrong. The last slaves my family owned were freed and sent to Liberia in about 1855 with money to buy land once they got there. My family did not think it was safe for them to remain in Virginia. My family then moved to California and stayed out of the Civil War as a result.

I can understand displaying the Confederate Battle Flag only in the context of war memorials and war cemeteries. However, in both cases, I think any of the official Confederate States government flags would be less incendiary, although less acceptable to Mr. French. I think that the Battle flag on the grounds of the state capitol is not appropriate, even if it's over a Civil War memorial.  It’s ironic that the Confederate Battle flag was originally displayed over war memorials and war cemeteries because the veterans wanted to be associated with the Confederate Army and not the Confederate government.  However, now the Battle Flag has assumed a different meaning.

It is the unfortunate truth that the Confederate Battle flag was appropriated by some extremely racist bigots as the symbol of their resistance to integration. Since this misappropriation occurred during living memory, it remains the way the Battle flag is understood by the vast majority of the admittedly ignorant population. It's hard for most people to identify the dates of the Civil War within 25 or even 50 years. The details of the conflict beyond the basics are not clear to most. I don't see any way this misunderstanding can be corrected in the next 50 years. Perhaps giving the flag a rest will allow it to return to its original meaning as the flag of the Army of Northern Virginia. 

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