ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel
  • »
  • Education and Science»
  • History & Archaeology»
  • History of the Americas

The Confederate Flag Is One of Many American Flags

Updated on June 30, 2015
What to do with the Confederate flag is perplexing for some people who wish to revise history.
What to do with the Confederate flag is perplexing for some people who wish to revise history.
There are many American flags, with each deserving respect and honor.
There are many American flags, with each deserving respect and honor.


The flags of the Confederate States are often lighting rods for controversy. There are many reasons for the controversy. You can often tell where a person was educated by their response to the flags and the meanings that are attributed to them. These flags often force people to take stands and reflect on the times and issues surrounding it.

The most commonly associated flag with the Confederacy is the rectangular shaped “St. Andrews Cross” design. This design has a blue saltier cross with 13 stars on a red background. The Confederate States used several variants of this design during their establishment. The first design used consisted of a circle of stars with three parallel bars. This first design was often known as being the “Stars and Bars”.

In terms of being American flags, they have the same amount of legitimacy as other American flags. Those flags were used by the Confederate States as symbols of their nation. They were the banners of an American nation, just as there have been other flags of American nations. The Bonnie Blue flag was the flag of the Republic of West Florida. The Lone Star Flag is the flag of the Republic of Texas. Each of these were American nations. Each had legitimate governments along with armed forces and symbols of their republics.

Soldiers, sailors and marines served and died defending the banner. Many soldiers and sailors also died opposing the Confederate flag as well. The Confederate flag continues being carried into combat around the world by American soldiers. Although its display is often frowned upon by the powers that be, it has not stopped soldiers from continuing to draw inspiration from it. It has been on battlefields in Iraq, Afghanistan, Vietnam, across Europe and the span of Pacific Islands. There are even stories among veterans that it was the Confederate flag that first flew on Mount Suribachi, Iwo Jima. Many times, although the soldiers know where the flag has been displayed, the reporting of it is often censored or never allowed to dispel American myths. The shock of considering that a Confederate flag is what flew rather than the iconic images portrayed by Life magazine is often hard for people to realize. The continued use of the Confederate flag is evidence that it continues to inspire soldiers. When a flag inspires the soldiers and sailors, that inspiration is reason to honor the Confederate flag.

Although the Confederate flag is often taken into combat, the military often frowns on applicants that have tattoos of Confederate flags. Having them as tattoos is not acceptable, even though many other items are.

Some say it is a flag associated with ‘treason’. When the Constitutional definition of treason is considered, as given in Article 3, section 3, “Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them [the States], or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court.” From this definition, treason occurs when one State invades another State. The Confederate States did not initiate any invasion. Soldiers and sailors from the Northern States did invade the Confederate States. Their act of invading the Confederacy would legally be an act of ‘treason’ as defined by the Constitution. Although that charge of treason is often levied against the Confederacy, President Jefferson Davis, General Robert E. Lee or other officers were ever tried or convicted of treason. They were never tried for treason due to the United States not having a legal case to prove it. President Davis wanted to have his day in court in order to prove his innocence. The Supreme Court justices decided against addressing the matter in court. Since no Confederate officer, or politician was tried or convicted of treason, the flag has no association with treason in any form or fashion.

Another fallacious charge is that the Confederate flag is associated with slavery. This charge is often used in demonizing the South. Those making such claims have not studied their history in an honest manner. In order to make such a claim, the subject of slavery needs to be addressed honestly. No slave ship ever flew the Confederate flag. The flag flown by slave ships was the United States flag. The Confederate Constitution outlawed the further importation of slaves. At the time of the war, there were slaves in the Union and in the Confederacy. According to the 1860 census, there were also more free blacks in the Confederate States than in the Northern States. These inconvenient facts are often left out of discussions regarding the Confederate flag. There was also forced conscription of soldiers and sailors in each nation as well. When a man is forced into involuntary servitude, it is a form of slavery. Both nations were forcing people into service regardless of color by the wars final year. Saying one is more ‘evil’ than the other is misleading and dishonest. Although the Confederate flag is branded with that label, the nations who maintained slavery into the 20th century such as Sudan, Saudi Arabia, China and Brazil do not have the slavery stigma that is thrown against the Confederate flag. If you are one that seriously wants to deal with the issue honestly and hate nations that had slaves, you would put the same stigma on the flags of Sudan, Saudi Arabia, China, Brazil and the United States (where slavery officially ended in December 1865 in Kentucky and Delaware, when they approved the 13th amendment, rather than June 19th as commonly believed).

The Confederate flag is recognized around the world as a symbol associated with standing up against an oppressive government. Although this connection is not made in parts of the United States, the people of the world look at matters differently. Assuming that the rest of the world looks at the Confederate flag like people in some sections of the United States is misleading.

Some may choose not to honor the Confederate flag out of their personal convictions. That is their choice. They have freedom of speech. They can choose to honor or choose not to honor. Choosing to selectively honor only those Americans who are like you, share the same views that you do, or look like you is problematic. Removing the heroes, historic sites or statues of people that you do not like in American history amounts to political correctness gone wild. It is also a mistake to apply 21st century standards to the policies of the 19th century. Many Americans do not want the values of the 19th century applied to them in the 21st century, yet continue applying their values to past generations. Whether you like the events and people or not, they shaped the nation we live in. You may not choose to make pilgrimages to the statues of Eugene Debbs, the site of the Whiskey Rebellion or Susan B. Anthony, but that does not mean that what they did has no bearing on shaping America. Choosing to ignore them or removing their statues or markers is a dis-service to future generations. Although fashions change and ideas change in popularity, the historical figures and events that shaped the nation need to be remembered.

Some dislike the St. Andrews Cross design due to its religious affiliations with the legend of St. Andrew. The St. Andrews Cross connects the Confederate States with both Biblical inspiration and Scottish ancestry. Since many people with Scottish ancestry lived in the Southern States, it was only natural that such symbols were used. Having a cross on the flag automatically associates the flag with Christianity. Since the flag has ‘Christian’ symbols embedded in, there are some people whose opposition to such symbols automatically carries over to the flag due to that association.

Should Americans honor the Confederate flag? I believe so. That flag is an American flag as is the Gasden Flag, the Liberty Tree Flag, the Bonnie Blue Flag and the Betsy Ross flag along with many others. You may not like those flags, yet they are deserving of honor as well. Each of them were legitimate banners carried into battle and acknowledged by an established government. Americans died under each of those banners. Those men believed in the cause those flags represented. Just because social policies and political policies change does not mean that those men are suddenly not worth honor or that the flags they fought under are not worthy of honor as well.

Comments

Submit a Comment

  • Admiral Murrah profile image
    Author

    Admiral Murrah 2 years ago from Texas

    Connie,

    Thank you for your comments. When societies go through change, there is often a lashing out at old symbols, which includes flags. This kind of purging occurred in Scotland with the Highland Purges, when they outlawed kilts, declared bagpipes weapons of war and outlawed them as well.

    When you start cherry-picking history, or revamping it to be politically correct rather than factually accurate, you run into problems.

  • Connie120 profile image

    Connie120 2 years ago

    This is a very well-written article, with a lot of historical accuracy. It is a shame that a flag which had such a prominent part in American history is so maligned and attacked. Since the civil War, millions of Southerners have fought as Americans in all the wars, and it is an insult to thesse patriots to attack their ancestry and heritage.

  • Admiral Murrah profile image
    Author

    Admiral Murrah 4 years ago from Texas

    Amanda,

    Thank you for your comments. I have had my share of such interactions. Few people realize that the term racism was first used by V. I. Lenin in one of his diatribes. It is telling that many uninformed people use communist strategies of creating division (e.g. class warfare) even down to using the communist terms without knowing it. They have been played and do not realize it. Non-Southerners often resort to either claims of racism or associations with Nazi Germany when they begin losing arguments. Since few of the detractors are trained in rhetoric, know their history or know the facts, they resort to name calling and personal attacks. If they made an effort to know you or learn your cultural frame of reference rather than resorting to stereotypes, it could change their thinking. Rather than have their thinking challenged, it is easier to attack what you do not take the time to understand.

  • Amanda Roddy profile image

    Amanda Roddy 4 years ago

    Thank you for this hub. I just came from a religious snark board asking how to explain the South to Non-Southern people.Of course, the Southern flag and racisim came up. I replied racism is everywhere and aren't there more terrifying things in the world? Many great entertainers and policitians are from the South. If you try to tell them differently, they accuse you of being an apologist. Many things deserve to be snarked on, but attakcing someone's region based on stereotypes and isolated experiences draws the line for me.

  • Admiral Murrah profile image
    Author

    Admiral Murrah 5 years ago from Texas

    Alaster,

    Thank you for contributing. Given that 90% of the Southerners did not own slaves, it is a shame that their reputation is tarnished with hate. Many of the flags had messages regarding the protection of home and family embroidered on them. They were fighting for their homes rather than invading and looting the homes of others. They were fighting for their homeland and not for the 'propositional nation' idea which is so in vogue now. There was a big difference between America as a homeland versus America as a proposition.

    The Southerners were also fighting to protect their Constitutional rights, and did not believe that President Lincoln should be able to trample their rights and freedoms. The South was let down by the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government. The checks and balances did not work in keeping the power hungry in check.

    The flag is symbolic of their hope. When you consider how outnumbered they were, it is a miracle that they lasted as long as they did. Few nations have stood up to the united States and questioned its power for such a long time.

    I share your concerns about the government school systems that continues myths rather than present facts and the whole story.

  • Alastar Packer profile image

    Alastar Packer 5 years ago from North Carolina

    Good article that states the facts. Too bad this battle flag drenched in the blood of soldiers who by and large owned no one and truly fought for a homeland they felt was under threat of tyranny, should be misunderstood and debased by hate groups and ignoramuses. Perhaps even worse is a school system that pushes a P.C. agenda and thereby leaves out the whole story and thus the truth.

  • Admiral Murrah profile image
    Author

    Admiral Murrah 5 years ago from Texas

    daskittlez60,

    I understand where you are coming from. I have dealt with my share or trolls, and snipers on hubpages. I enjoy honest thought provoking hub content that expands my knowledge. There is still a lot of heat associated with flying the Confederate flag now compared with the previous decades. Having an original flag is rare and often requires great care.

    I applaud you flying it on memorial day. There were some communities that in the years after the war refused allowing the families of soldiers from honoring their dead relatives. Those refusals led to animosities that eventually became separate memorial days for Confederate and Union soldiers, rather than one day for all American soldiers.

  • daskittlez69 profile image

    daskittlez69 5 years ago from midwest

    I will probably get hell for this from other Hubbers, but I agree with you. I had family on both sides of the war. And I still have an original Confederate flag that was handed down to me from relatives past. And I took a lot of heat in Highscool for flying it directly under the American flag on Memorial day.