Despite graveyard ban, Confederate flag stirs concern
By Anjelicia Bruton
While there are no Confederate soldiers buried at Tallahassee National Cemetery, there is a strong sentiment that a recent ban of the Confederate flags from Veteran Administration cemeteries will change the way advocates reflect on fallen Confederate soldiers.
This past week, the House voted 265-159 to prohibit flying of the Confederate battle flag at cemeteries operated by the Department of Veterans Affairs.
The ban is resonating with Tallahassee residents like Vivian Cromartie, who said it shouldn’t be allowed anywhere.
“The Confederate flag to me represents an era when Black folks weren’t considered human,” Cromartie said. “The war between the states came out victorious for the North. It’s the United States; not a separation between Northern and Southern states.”
“It should be banned from everywhere. It should be banned; don’t even make them anymore. They do not need it.”
Rep. Jared Huffman (D. Calif.), who wrote the prohibition amendment, argued his case, saying that the flag represents treason. Banning it from government property is long overdue, he said.
“Why in the year 2016 are we still condoning displays of this hateful symbol on our sacred national cemeteries,” Huffman said. “Symbols like the Confederate battle flag have meaning. They are not just neutral historical symbols of pride. They represent slavery, oppression, lynching, and hate.”
“To continue to allow national policy condoning the display of this symbol on federal property is wrong, and it’s disrespectful to what our country stands for and what our veterans fought for.”
The Confederate battle flag made its debut during the Civil War about 100 years ago. The Civil War was the bloodiest war in America’s history.
It’s been a longstanding belief that the war was caused because of slavery. The confederate was made up of Southern states that had slavery and the Union consisted of Northern states that wanted to end slavery.
Presence of the flag in public is troubling to Tallahassee resident Nicholas Baxter. He, like many who oppose the flag, feels strongly that the flag represents racial discrimination.
“It’s supposed to represent Southern pride, but the way that it’s used now it’s geared more towards racism,”Baxter said.
Rep. Sanford D. Bishop (D. Ga.) was the only Democrat to vote against the bill. He said he considers the flag insulting, but he accepts the fact that loved ones of fallen soldiers should be honored.
“While as a descendant of slaves, I find the Confederate flag and the history it represents deeply offensive,” Bishop said in a statement, “I believe that the descendants of Confederate veterans should not be denied the privilege of honoring their dead ancestors two days of the year on a flagpole where their beloved are buried in mass graves.”
Alexander Welch echoed Bishop’s sentiments about honoring fallen soldiers.
“If it’s a Confederate soldier then they fought and died under the Confederate flag.” Welch said. “Thus, taking away the Confederate flag from the grave site is both disrespectful and kind of like kicking a puppy when it’s already gone down.”
“It’s not like they can defend themselves, it’s a matter of respect.”