Let me start by saying I grew up in the heart of the south. Middle Tennessee was my birthplace, and I am proud to say is still the area that I call home today. Since I was young, I have heard how the Confederate Flag is a representation of a narrow minded set of values, and that displaying it is simply a visual proclamation of one’s hate for people not of the Caucasian race. This piece of American History has been deemed unworthy for display on pretenses that are entirely untrue.
The truth of the matter is that this flag represents the heritage of an entire area of our country. It represents men who fought and died to protect it, and families who lost everything they had in an attempt to preserve what they felt was right. To truly look at this piece of history, one has to look at the Civil War, the people who fought in that war, and the reasons that they fought.
It has long been argued that the basis for the Civil War was slavery, and I will not even attempt to deny that it was one of the reasons that the civil war was fought. However, the majority of people that fought in this war were not the wealthy plantation owners who owned the majority of slaves. Rather, the people who fought this war were the farmers, the shopkeepers, and the every day people of this era.
There were not only white people fighting for the Confederacy, but there were African Americans as well. Does it make sense that these ordinary people went to war to save an institution that did not benefit them either? That these people were willing to give up their lives for a cause that did not benefit them in any way?
It makes more sense to assume that the cultural differences between the north and the south created a rift. That the rising tensions created by the fact that the industrialized north and the agricultural south had different viewpoints on many issues, including slavery had helped to widen this rift. And, eventually this rift became a chasm that the people in power in the south saw no way to bridge, except by dissolving the union.
They probably felt the only way to accurately express their deep feelings of discontent with the lack of representation they perceived was to break all ties with the northern states, and make their decisions based on what was most needed in the southern states. Upon breaking their ties, they created their own union based on their morals, values and needs as a community. They elected a president, and created a flag to represent their dreams. Since their defeat this flag has been short listed as a representation of all that was wrong during this time.
It appears that we should all step back and look at the cultural and historical value associated with this flag. I am proud to say that I had ancestors who fought and died to protect this flag. They were solid enough to stand up for their ideals, and give their lives in support of their beliefs. Not one of them owned a slave. They were not charging those battlefields to show their support of an abominable institution, but rather to say we can and will make our own decisions. We are capable of determining what is best for our area, and deserve an equal voice and representation.
How such an important part of our history can be blacklisted as an icon of racism is beyond my understanding. How it can be held up as symbolization of a set of ideals, which in no way encompass the actual values of its time is hard to imagine. The Confederate Flag is not a symbol of hate. It is a symbol of the heritage of an entire group of people. It does not represent hate filled ideals and a complete lack of morals, but rather the dreams and determination of a group of people to have their voices heard and recognized by the government they felt was ignoring their needs.
This flag should not be hidden in a closet or displayed only by racist groups who use it for all the wrong reasons. It should be proudly displayed, as a symbol that we have the right to stand and fight for what we believe in, and that win or lose the spirit of those who fought will be remembered. It should be recognized for what it is a valuable symbol of the heritage of our country, a symbol of where we have been and what we have overcome as a nation. A symbol for all to recognize and respect, not something to be scorned, for the true meaning of this flag is much deeper than race or creed, the true meaning of this flag lies in the hearts of those every day people that fought and died under it, and the descendants that carry their bloodlines.