Dear Editor: Those who want the Confederate flag to remain atop the Capitol or its grounds should reexamine another definition of the word ‘flag,’ which is “to decline in vigor or strength.”
Vigor and strength – much like our bodies, our jobs, and our ways of life – do decline. And so should the Confederate flag.
Allow the Confederate flag to retire with dignity, with honor, and with love rather than with divisiveness, with dishonor, and with reprehension. Allow the Confederate flag, as it is great and like all great things, find repose in an elegy I happily would write, for such a decline could never replace what many considered its vigor and its strength. Allow it to wave forever unscathed in the hearts of those who gallantly fought for what they believed was best for South Carolina and the nation then, though we know that it does not now and cannot ever represent what our founding fathers inked into the Constitution as a free America – for all peoples.
The Confederate flag has flown vigorously and augustly in its time. Now, the time has come again to remove it and go forward with America’s new agenda, putting aside perceived, acknowledged, and real truths of what it did represent.
For millions in this country, the Confederate flag represents part of a dark past of struggle and hatred that continues to emerge in less-conspicuous ways today, like at banks, at personnel offices, at newspapers, at television stations, and in the per-capita incomes of many, especially African Americans and the poor of South Carolina.
This flag emerges as a reminder that even in a state where nearly half of its citizenry is African American, there are lags that abound in the early manifestations of this red, white, and blue flag that represents separatism and superiority – the idea of “U.S. apartheid.”
And for its lovers, its proponents, may it fly high in the hearts of those who indulged it so – the dead, the Confederate, the voices from eery graves, some buried with epitaphs and some just in open ground. Hear these men say with their final vigor and strength that the fight was not worth the effort and the loss expended. It was senseless to engage in war over an issue with inevitable resolve. Hear from the graves their voices saying, live and thrive now! Know that these were men of honor. When they lost the battle and the war, they accepted it with dignity, with honor, and with death. May the proponents of such men find this worth and accept their same honor today.
It all seems strange that the state legislature in South Carolina in and around the early sixties was well aware that civil rights legislation was forthcoming. Surely, one of the major pieces of civil rights legislation, the Civil Rights Act of 1964, would be the most historical, important, legislation in America. These gentlemen, the 1962 General Assembly who decided to hoist the flag atop the State House, sagaciously envisaged a new South and they quickly found a way to remind its opponents of the old South. They hurriedly passed legislation to place the flag atop the Capitol. For this act, we currently remember them and we currently fight again.
Some remembrance continues with a certain hatred and some remembrance with a certain love, but both now manifest a certain divisiveness that may put South Carolina back into the streets with factions against each other.
Somehow, it isn’t necessary that 620,000 young Southern Americans, many whites who fought for Southern independence, die again. Somehow the S.C. legislature must rethink its position and become the moral, conscionable authority in the flag issue and remove it from Capitol grounds and allow it to find repose in dignity and honor. Somehow Gov. Haley, the General Assembly, you and I must come to a simple truth – everything will change. For into the hands that made the rose may we all with trembling fall.
And so, may the Confederate flag decline in vigor and strength. Or may it decline always with divisiveness. As for me, I prefer that the Confederate flag find repose in its death of vigor and strength in a Confederate museum.
Rhys … thanks for the letter. Appreciate your perspective.
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