Don’t condemn the flag, but those who misuse it

Published: March 13, 2008

To the Editor:

I read with concern the events at Fort Hill High School. It’s unfortunate that some misguided youth are causing problems, but the Confederate flag is not the culprit and banning it – the symbol of proud heritage to so many – is also misguided and wrong.

The correct actions were taken when the students were suspended. If they did what was reported, there is no excuse for their actions in this day and time. But as the descendant of several Confederate soldiers it alarms me that the Confederate battle flag is once again being misused and being portrayed as a symbol of hate and bigotry.

The flag first and foremost belongs to the Confederate soldiers who fought to defend their homes and families in a war in which invading troops were burning, looting, stealing livestock and destroying farms. The vast majority of Southerners owned no slaves and for them the war wasn’t about slavery. In one notable incident a Confederate soldier was taken prisoner by Union troops.

When they asked why he was fighting he said, "Because you all are down here." There were many nationalities of people who fought for the South. Free Blacks were among the first to volunteer for service in Confederate armies. There were Native Indian troops. Irish. French, Italian and other nationalities. Confederate soldiers felt they were fighting the "Second American Revolution" just like the patriots of 1776 and believed in a limited national government, with more power vested in the individual states.

Bottom line – condemn those who use the Confederate Battle Flag as a symbol of hate, but not the flag itself. Banning the flag is banning freedom of expression.

Terry Ayers

© 2008, The Cumberland Times-News

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