Confederate flag is not racist one
Thursday, May 9th, 2013

Last week, the VA Center in Hot Springs removed two  Confederate flags hanging in a historical display after two African-American patients there complained about them being racist. The two were at the VA for post-traumatic stress disorder treatment and were reportedly released about two weeks early from the programs with full credit.

Shortly after the two men were on their way home, the flags were put up again in the rotunda display at the VA. Steven DiStasio, director of the VA Black Hills Health System, said the flags were returned because of their historical significance and their role in showing respect for all veterans. He said the flags were temporarily removed out of respect for the complaints made by the two veterans.

We agree that the Confederate flag is part of our history, just as much as the Civil War is an important part of this country’s history. The Civil War was mainly fought by the Southern states because they were opposed to a centralized federal government proposed by President Lincoln, not because they wanted to continue with slave ownership on their plantations. In fact, Southern slave owners were already granting freedom for slaves before the war started.

The Civil War was about states’ rights as opposed to a centralized federal government in Washington, D.C. Southern states wanted their independence from the heavy hand of a federal government and they were willing to go to war to keep their independence. The more populated North was also more heavily industrialized and able to produce more guns and ammunition to conquer the South. The Civil War today is still referred to by some Southerners as “The War of Northern Aggression.”

DiStasio correctly points out that the VA Center in Hot Springs was originally constructed to house veterans of the Civil War. These were not just Union veterans, but veterans from the Confederate states as well. Both sides fought under their own flags for a cause they believed was right and just. Above all, men and women from both sides who fought in this terrible and bloody war were all Americans.

Unfortunately, over the years the Confederate flag has been used by the white-supremist, Southern-based Ku Klux Klan in their ceremonies. We can certainly understand why Blacks would want to connect this flag with racism. The flag itself is not racist. It has been taken up in the past by a racist group that is condemned for its historical hate of Black Americans. The Klan also wraps itself in the folds of the American flag, which is also disgusting.

The flag of the Confederacy is an important part of our history. It was carried through all the bloody battles of the Civil War by Americans living in Southern states. It, along with the American flag, doesn’t deserve to be linked with slavery or racism in any way. It should continue hanging as an important part of our nation’s history.

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