Confederate flag's strange companions
"I think they should put it in the museum, let it go,” announced then-Presidential candidate Trump of New York in support of South Carolina's Gov. Nikki Haley removing the Confederate flag from its statehouse.
That's not just President Trump's advice. He was echoing Robert E. Lee's advice to compatriots after the Civil War of folding Confederate flags up and putting them away. Lee objected to Confederate symbols being displayed and also monuments that were being erected around Civil War battlegrounds.
“I think it wiser moreover not to keep open the sores of war, but to follow the examples of those nations who endeavoured to obliterate the marks of civil strife and to commit to oblivion the feelings it engendered,” responded Lee to the president of the Gettysburg Battlefield Memorial Association.
The U.S. flag and the Confederate flag do not get along. For the rebellion, the war was lost. Lee felt it was best to put such failed symbols away and unify.
Ulysses Grant, the U.S. general who brought the Confederacy's General Lee to surrender at Appomattox, said of the Confederate cause that flag represents: "That cause was, I believe, one of the worst for which a people ever fought, and one for which there was the least excuse.”
But all this talking about history is irrelevant to some, because flying a Confederate flag in one's front yard is not really about remembering Civil War history or loyalty to the Confederacy, is it?
Up until January 20, 2017, I could usually see a few Confederate flags on every back road trip in Kentucky that I drove. I particularly started noticing these flags over the past eight years. These flags never were partnered with an Obama "hope" flag. It reached a feverish pitch after July, 2015 when South Carolina removed its Confederate battle flag from its statehouse grounds. That weekend, I counted ten Confederate flags on a 50 mile photography trip. That was the most I've ever seen.
Since the day of President Obama's departure from the White House, I have not seen a single Confederate flag flying in front yards on my long drives through Central Kentucky. Not one. Until today.
I saw my first Confederate flag flying since the inauguration. This time around, it had a new companion, Trump.