One Man’s Reply
Rebel Flag Flap Costs Student His Driving Privileges
Those who decry the Confederate Battle Flag as a symbol of racism, hatred, or bigotry are at best ill-informed, and at worst malicious.
The flag that we know as the Confederate Battle Flag was used by many (but by no means all) Confederate military units during the War for Southern Independence (1861-1865). It was the Confederate soldiers’ flag, and they alone had the right to interpret its meaning.
When the War was over, the Confederate soldiers became Confederate veterans. They formed an organization known as the United Confederate Veterans. The Confederate Battle Flag was still their flag, and they alone had the right to interpret its meaning.
In 1896, since many of the Confederate veterans were aged, infirm, and dying off, the Sons of Confederate Veterans was formed as the successor organization to the United Confederate Veterans. The legacy and authority of the United Confederate Veterans was transferred to them over the next ten years. This transfer of power culminated in a speech given 25 April 1906 at New Orleans, Louisiana by Stephen Dill Lee, Confederate lieutenant-general, and commander-in-chief of the United Confederate Veterans, wherein he delivered the following charge:
"To you, Sons of Confederate Veterans, we will commit the vindication of the cause for which we fought. To your strength will be given the defense of the Confederate soldier’s good name, the guardianship of his history, the emulation of his virtues, the perpetuation of those principles which he loved and which you love also, and those ideals which made him glorious and which you also cherish. Remember: It is your duty to see that the true history of the South is presented to future generations."
Since 25 April 1906, therefore, the Confederate Battle Flag has been the flag of the Sons of Confederate Veterans. They alone have the right to interpret its meaning. They have interpreted its meaning, and explained (repeatedly!) that meaning – and it is not hatred, nor is it bigotry.
No group preaching hatred, bigotry, or the supremacy of any ethnic group has a right to use the Confederate Battle Flag. All such uses are spurious and unauthorized.
Anyone other than the Sons of Confederate Veterans who uses or attempts to define the Confederate Battle Flag does so on grounds at best shaky, and any interpretation so given is questionable.
Clifton Palmer McLendon
Upshur County, Texas