Let me be clear: there is no reason to fly the Confederate flag on the grounds of any governmental institution. The best reason is that it represents a group of states which sought to end our Republic. It is akin to flying the Nazi flag, the flag of a foreign nation which also sought to destroy our Republic. Banning the Confederate flag, however, goes too far. While many see the flag as representative of racism, many others see it as a symbol of part of our history and a testament to those Americans who fought and died for it, whatever we think of their motivations. As a student of the civil war, it is important to remember that most of the Americans who died for the South were not slave owners. Many of the leaders in the South did not own slaves and were not comfortable with slavery. Some on the left have gone so far as to call for the dismantling of the Jefferson memorial because Jefferson, one of the architects of our Republic, owned slaves. This sentiment reflects an attempt to rewrite our history, not understand it. Defacing memorials to Southerners like Jefferson Davis will not bring our country together. Studying and understanding the times and the conflicts within our country during those times will do more to facilitate the maturity necessary to move ahead and continue our path toward racial equality. One of our current President’s avowed icons, Abraham Lincoln said it best when he said in his second inaugural address: “With malice toward none, with charity for all…let us strive…to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves….” Obviously, the families of the slain victims in Charleston got the message when they greeted the killer with forgiveness and compassion. We should follow their lead.


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