Your Article "Beneath an infamous rebel flag in east Tampa"
This e-mail is one man’s response to your article at
The proper name of the Flag mentioned in your article is "the Confederate Battle Flag." It was used by many (but by no means all) Confederate military units, and also served as a Naval flag and as a component of the Second and Third National Flags. It was the flag of Confederate soldiers, and they alone had the right to interpret its meaning.
When the War was over, the Confederate soldiers became Confederate veterans. The 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:
"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. Are you also ready to die for your country? Is your life worthy to be remembered along with theirs? Do you choose for yourself this greatness of soul?
Not in the clamor of the crowded street,
Not in the shouts and plaudits of the throng,
But in ourselves are triumph and defeat."
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.
The Confederate Battle Flag is not the flag of the Kluxers and other malcontents of their ilk. They do not have the right to interpret its meaning.
The Confederate Battle Flag is not the flag of Marcus Fowler or Keith Johnson. Their remarks are made from insufficient or inaccurate information on the subject.
The Confederate Battle Flag is certainly not the flag of Ricky Kernon. His comments, besides being hateful, are made from a lack of knowledge of history. He does not realize that there were thousands of blacks, both slave and free, in Confederate service, nor does he realize that almost all of the black-white friction in the Southern States today stems from the actions of Reconstruction governments — governments whose every action had to be approved by Washington DC.
As for the Confederate Battle Flag’s being infamous: The thirteen-stripe United States Flag has far more unsavory associations than the Confederate Battle Flag. Consider:
> Under the thirteen-stripe flag, thousands of slaves were transported to the New World. No Confederate ship ever transported a cargo of slaves.
> Under the thirteen-stripe flag, the Native Americans/American Indians were forcibly displaced from their homes and shot down and starved out in mass numbers. Nothing of the sort ever happened under the Confederate Battle Flag.
> Under the thirteen-stripe flag, military units were largely segregated by race until after the Second World War. Confederate units, on the other hand, had all sorts of ethnicities serving side-by-side.
Clifton Palmer McLendon
Gilmer, Texas