It honors those who fought, is not inherently racist

By Charlie Miller
Teen Page Reporter

Despite accusations that the Confederate flag is a racist symbol, the basis of fact for these accusations is, to a large extent, false. The flag is not inherently a racist symbol, because it represents the men and women of all races who fought for the Confederate States of America in the Civil War.

The Enduring Vision, the book used in Advanced Placement history class, says that only one-fourth of all Confederate citizens at the time even owned slaves. So, it is a tragic stereotype to label the flag racist.

The Confederate flag represents those who fought and died for the Confederate States of America, just as stone monuments do in small towns all across the South. Many young men in the South were not fighting for or against slavery. Service in the Confederate Army was seen by many as a job and as a way of earning a paycheck and three meals a day, rather than as a crusade for slavery.

According to the book Black Southerners in Gray, edited by Richard Rollins, an estimated 93,000 blacks served in the Confederate Army, and of those, an estimated 13, 000 saw combat. More than 3,000 armed black soldiers served with Confederate Gen. Stonewall Jackson. Would it be logical to arm a person who was not willing to fight for you? Ironically, the Confederate armies seem to be more integrated, while Union armies segregated blacks into regiments led by white officers, such as the 54th Massachusetts made famous in the movie Glory.

Are we to extinguish the memory of these soldiers as well, who fought and died for their country, even if that country did not grant them equal rights?

The argument that the flag is racist because the Ku Klux Klan displays it also takes away from what the flag truly represents. The Klan also displays American flags and Christian crosses, in addition to the Confederate battle flag. Are we to eliminate these symbols also, just because a small minority perverts their true meaning and purpose?

Slavery existed for more than 100 years under the American and British flags. Are these flags, too, to be considered symbols of hate?

The Confederate flag represented a country that had an economic institution, albeit a relic of the Jeffersonian era, that was a way of life for them. The Southern states remained essentially stuck in time, and fought the Civil War because it was a perceived threat to their way of life.

I believe that we should let this flag serve as a reminder of our past and a lesson to our children as we contemplate our future. We should allow the Confederate flag to fly beneath the state and national flags as a reminder of our past, because it is not our job to erase history. Rather, we should be mindful of all events, good and bad, that have happened in our history, and move on to the future.

¡E Charlie Miller is a senior at Reynolds High School.