Flag Talk

Let’s talk flags. the flag is a military symbol first and foremost. It is meant to be a rallying symbol for the members of the nation it represents. The American flag as we know it today is protected by the “Flag Code”, a military document that outlines how the flag is to be flown and details how one can respect and disrespect the flag. For instance, we stand for our flag because we used to kneel to the crown. Kneeling for the flag is still considered s sign of respect. When it was ruled that burning the flag was protected free speech, for instance, the argument was made that burning the flag was he only respectful way of disposing of a damaged or worn flag. The flag code tells us not to fly the flag at night unless it is lit, do not hang the flag vertically. Fly it upside down only to show distress, do not fly it in bad weather.

Even proud and patriotic Americans, however, disrespect the flag in far worse ways every day. Have you ever had a flag bumper sticker? Maybe you had a piece of clothing like an affliction shirt (God forbid) with a flag on it. As a child, have you worn the flag as a cape? Yeah, me neither, but it’s not unheard of. Have you ever hugged a flag because you love the country so much? Then you’ve defiled it. Anyway, all of those are against the flag code. Altering the flag in any way is also against the flag code so all of those blue lives matter flags with the blue line as pictured here… very disrespectful. If you’re a patriot, you adhere to the flag code. The current American flag is not the only flag our nation has flown, though.

There has been much discussion of the “Confederate flag” and it’s meaning. Flags, like any other symbol, will mean different things to different groups of people and as such, the meanings of these symbols must be respected. For instance, the iconography used by the Nazi party was not “evil”, but after being used to commit atrocities, the swastika no longer evokes ideas of the pursuit of knowledge as it should since its origins lay in Eastern culture. To the western eye… it just means hate and intolerance and totalitarian rule. Because of this we don’t fly flags with swastika’s on them. It is because of the respect we have for those to whom the atrocities were committed that we apply their view of the symbol and restrict its use.

Now that’s all well and good. You might not want to extend that respect to the individuals who see the confederate symbol as negative and instead, you might want to fly it as a point of pride. I think we could all use a little more pride in our history and our lives. The problem is, the “confederate flag” as we see it used today is not the flag of the confederate states of America.

Stars and Bars – National flag of the Confederate States of America – March 4 to May 21 1861

The Stars and Bars was a field of blue with varying numbers of white stars (13 by the end) and three horizontal stripes of red, white, then red. What we see today is one part of a larger flag, the “Stainless” banner and the “Blood Stained Banner”. This was a white flag with a red square canton crossed by red and blue x with stars inside. The Blood Stained version had a red horizontal stripe along the trailing edge.

Blood Stained Banner – National flag of the Confederate States of America March 1863

So why the current confederate flag as it’s painted on the General Lee and flying from southern courthouses? Well, that’s similar to the confederate navy jack and an elongated version of the battle flag of the army of Tennessee and the army of Virginia, neither of which were recognized as an official National Flag by the confederacy. The current flag that we know as the Confederate flag or the “rebel flag” started being used in the fifties as an opposition tool against the civil rights movement. It was flown by mobs of white nationalists and the KKK to instill fear into the blacks who had the gall to stand up for their right to vote. It has nothing to do with pride or even historical accuracy. To show “southern pride” one should fly the stars and bars or the blood stained banner, not the current “rebel flag”.

If you want to be completely accurate and display your “southern pride”, all you need is a white towel since that’s what was used to surrender to the union forces and was the last flag flown by the confederate states of America.

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