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I wrote a piece this morning posted on my blog. One response in particular called up just the right amount of picayune snark to compel a reply. To those who already know all this, you can skip to the next adorable kitty vid.
The flag shown above is not the Confederate flag. This square red flag with crossed blue band and white stars is the battle flag of the Army of Northern Virginia, commanded by General Robert E. Lee, he of unsullied reputation, and surrendered to General Grant at Appomattox Courthouse on April 9, 1865. Also called the Virginia flag, Beauregard’s flag, even though it never historically represented the CSA as a country, was never officially recognized as one of the national flags, it is commonly referred to as “the Confederate Flag” and has become a widely recognized symbol. It is also called the rebel flag, Dixie flag, and Southern Cross.
The first flag flown informally representing the seceded states was “the Bonnie Blue flag” of Gone with the Wind fame.
The so called “Van Dorn” flag, a hideous red orange with a crescent moon and stars strewn about randomly, was used by General Van Dorn and others in the Trans-Mississippi theatre of battle.
In March 1861, the hastily assembled government of the Confederacy took time from fomenting rebellion, treason, anarchy and terrorism to designate an official flag. This flew over the hastily designated capitol in Montgomery, before the Confederate capital was hastily moved to Richmond.
So in 1863, presumably after more thought, a new official flag was adopted, called “the Stainless Banner.”
A white flag, decorated by a canton in the upper left replicating General Lee’s battle flag, many hated this flag because they thought it would appear as a flag of truce or surrender on the battlefield. This remained the official flag until March 1865. The designer, one William T. Thompson, a writer and editor from Savannah, claimed that the white field represented the purity of the white race as well as the purity of the Cause.
For some reason, in March 1865, with only a month left in the war, (though the stubborn willful blindness of the Southern gentlemen who ran the war refused to see how near the end they really were) yet another new design was designated as the official flag. Called the “Blood-Stained Banner” this one served until the end.
To summarize, the rebel flag some want to defend as an historical symbol of their forefathers’ valor and courage was only correctly revered by those whose ancestors actually served with the Army of Northern Virginia.
Now that all that is clear as mud, please stop. Stop talking so reverently about a flag that never flew as the official flag of a country that never really existed, symbolizing grand ideas and un-besmirched honor and courage.
This flag belongs in museums, of course. It belongs in the back windows of pick-up trucks splattered in mud driven by people who don’t really know what they are so proudly displaying. It belongs in private collections, may be displayed on private property, on your body as tattoo art, anywhere at all you want to wave it, raise it, wear it, anywhere you want it to display your undying love for a lost cause.
It does not belong on public government property. It is an historical artifact and should never be presented alongside state flags, the United States flag, or any other real entity.
If your great great great granddaddy fought in the Army of Northern Virginia, then I understand your desire to have and keep this flag.
Otherwise, I fail to see how you cannot make the connection from the rise in popularity of this flag in the 1960’s to the civil rights movement.
I am one of those proud, stubborn Southerners, born and raised in Alabama. I applauded the governor for simply ordering the flag removed from the state capitol grounds. He said he did not have time for discussing, debating, writing and wrangling with legislative bills or constitutional amendments or public referendums. He had a budget to wrangle, bills to pay. In other words, he had some real work to do.
Ya’ll have a nice day, now. Go do something.