12 August 2011

Flying The Flag

      There's a new controversy brewing, as seems to happen every few years, over the flying of the Confederate flag in a cemetery. A quick internet search turns up a number of news article where a group is protesting the Confederate flag flying over a Confederate memorial and 400 Confederate soldier graves.

     Here's some background on this story: Westview Cemetery, located in Atlanta, is the largest cemetery in the South East, with more than 100,000 graves on over 528 acres of land. There is a section near the front of the cemetery with a Confederate Memorial, which is controlled by the local Sons of the Confederacy. Two flags are flown there, which appear to be the first and third national flags of the Confederacy. The flags are not flown anywhere else in the cemetery, though small flags can be seen placed at the graves of soldiers throughout the cemetery, as placed by family or other individuals. Recently, during the funeral of a civil rights leader, the Confederate flags were noticed and shocked the mourners. Those who have started to protest the presence of the flags have admit that, though they have visited the graves of relatives buried here often over the years, they had not seen the flags until recently [link].

     In general, my thoughts are that if a word or action legitimately offends someone, folks should try to avoid saying or doing whatever it is that is offensive. HOWEVER, this only goes so far. It is necessary to look at the context of the situation which is causing offense and make a judgement. I don't think it's appropriate to run around town with a Confederate flag flying on your truck or even wear a t-shirt with a battle flag on it - but I do think it's appropriate to display the flag at cemeteries to show respect for those individual's sacrifices. The Confederacy is part of our country's history. It may be gone, but it should not be forgotten - nor should it be glorified. The Confederacy is dead - it is not appropriate to find the flag in cemeteries? It's history, that's all.

     I'm sure there are many this would disagree with my viewpoint, and that's fine. There's a lot of emotion behind these debates, which lead folks to a variety of opinions. Engaging in a dialogue and sharing opinions can only lead to understanding and acceptance between people of differently backgrounds and viewpoints.

1 comment:

Susan Clark said...

Thoughtfully written.

I struggle as I research our Confederate families. I've such a visceral negative response that it's difficult to maintain any kind of objectivity. I recognize your points but, even recognizing that those who fought for or supported the Confederacy had complicated motives that may have had little to do with slavery, I would not be able to return to, much less use, a cemetery that flew the flag. The sin was too great.


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