|One of several similar flags of the Confederacy.|
Efforts to reach a compromise on the Christmas parade flap that I wrote about last week. City Manager Chris Morrill and Downtown Roanoke Inc. Executive Director Tina Workman, along with Roanoke's city attorney have been studying ways to solve the complex dilemma.
In this case, the primary problem is freedom of speech/expression vs. a citizen's right not to be assaulted with insulting symbols--among other things.
|Southern Cross: Confederate battle flag.|
My suggestion to the organizers was for DRI to make the parade by invitation only and to set up a series of standards for entries that would be in keeping with the season of peace and joy--and not of guns, war and commercialism. DRI is a private entity and can do that. If the city ran the parade, it could not.
SCV would be invited to take part, but its display would need to be about Christmas, and not fighting. Christmas was celebrated by lonely, young, homesick soldiers in both camps during the Civil War and it would be historically accurate to portray the soldiers--with their wives and girlfriends, who often visited them in camp, sitting at a fire singing and perhaps enjoying a meal. There would need be no flags and no guns.
The display of the Stars and Bars is the most controversial issue and the one the SCV has battled localities over for years. It is the equivalent of the Swastika to many in our culture and its public display--and tacit approval by the organizers--is a slap in the face of those who believe it to be a symbol of the approval of slavery. Sons can tell us all they want that the Civil War had nothing to do with slavery, but that is simply not true on any level (a look at the various articles of secession by states will verify this), but even if it were, the symbol has made its mark, especially for our African-American citizens who have the right not to be insulted in a Christmas parade.
|Stonewall Jackson's army's Christmas.|
The Southern Cross came out of the First Battle of Manassas when Southern Gen. Pierre G.T. Beauregard (a flamboyant figure and noted actor before the war), cited the confusion in the similar flags. In a letter to Gen. Joseph Johnston, Beauregard said that "we should have two flags — a peace or parade flag, and a war flag to be used only on the field of battle — but congress having adjourned no action will be taken on the matter — How would it do us to address the War Dept. on the subject of Regimental or badge flags made of red with two blue bars crossing each other diagonally on which shall be introduced the stars ... We would then on the field of battle know our friends from our Enemies."
The Flag of the Confederacy is not dramatically different from the American flag, as you can see in the top photo. The fact, though, is that the Flag of the Confederacy does not come with the baggage of the Stars and Bars. Many people who are not Civil War buffs don't know its importance. Flying this flag--like a Christmas campfire float--would give the SCV historical accuracy and a Christmas theme all at the same time. It makes sense unless they are so entrenched and unwilling to accommodate the needs of others that they simply won't agree to compromise. And, of course, that would bring up another whole set of problems.
But let's hope they will agree to a small compromise to show how grown up they are in an increasingly divided country. That would truly be a cause for gratitude. An effort is being made to find an acceptable solution and for that, at least, I am grateful.
|Confederate soldiers riding under the national flag.|
(Drawing: civilwardailygazette.com; painting: www.jenrand.com)