Respect for The Flag: We should know better – Why don’t we?

If we don't respect our Flag, then how can we expect others to?

This photo is said to be from the 2011 Reunion, South Carolina Division, SCV. Now, I understand that there is some historical precedent for writing on a Confederate flag, and I am certain that this was done from a lack of knowledge and not from malice. That being said, we should know better than to treat our flag this way – but we don’t because we have not been taught.

The Confederate flag is not just a piece of cloth that one would write on to commemorate something. That is just a short step away from graffiti. The Confederate flag is not a cheap table cloth that one would set a Styrofoam coffee cup on.

When I say that this was done not with malice, but from a lack of knowledge, we really have only ourselves to blame. Without a set of rules and guidelines, we cannot expect people to know what is and is not acceptable use of the Confederate flag. There no widely-accepted code of etiquette for the Confederate flag as there is for the united States flag. The key phrase here is “widely-accepted”. There IS such a code, but it is largely unknown.

The Code of Confederate Flag Etiquette was a project of the Confederate Colonel forum in 2008. Confederate Colonel has since changed from a web forum to the current blog format, but at that time, we had a large pool of dedicated Southrons who took this on as a group project. I started by writing the basic document based on several existing flag codes. That was published on the forum, and members added their comments; we finally ended up with something we felt would give our flag the respect it deserves. It has been amended based on suggestions from reenactors, and I am confident that it will continue to be updated as we learn more.

We started with the basic idea that the Confederate flag is not merely an historical relic, but the flag of a nation. Not a nation that used to exist over a century ago and was defeated, but a real nation that, while defeated militarily, never formally surrendered or dissolved as a governmental or (more importantly) a social entity. Some may argue against that point, and we acknowledge that there are reasonable arguments against it; however, we decided that given the choice, we would err on the side of respect for a people and the flag that represents them. The Confederate flag still represents the Southern People.

In the previous post, A Southern Nation, I presented the case that The South is a nation. As such, the symbols of that nation are due the same level of respect as the symbols of any other nation. With that as a basic premise, we began with the regulations concerning the flag of the united States of America. Part of that basic premise includes the idea that the Confederate flag is of equal stature with the flags of other nations when displayed within the borders of the united States. When displayed at the same time and place as the united States flag, the Confederate flag should be treated in the same manner as the flag of other nations such as England or Canada or Australia. I will point out that, in the interest of not causing undue controversy, I never display both at the same time. That is my own personal decision though.

The Code of Confederate Flag Etiquette is a resource that I hope will be used to prevent the unintentional dishonoring of the flag of the Southern people – the flag that our ancestors fought and died under, and the flag that the Southern people live under. It deserves to be treated with respect.

About Stephen Clay McGehee

Born-Again Christian, Grandfather, husband, business owner, Southerner, aspiring Southern Gentleman. Publisher of The Confederate Colonel and The Southern Agrarian blogs. President/Owner of Adjutant Workshop, Inc., Vice President - Gather The Fragments Bible Mission, Inc. (Sierra Leone, West Africa), Webmaster - Military Order of The Stars and Bars, Kentucky Colonel.
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4 Responses to Respect for The Flag: We should know better – Why don’t we?

  1. Lady Val says:

    I don’t know whether to be happy or sad about the fact that what we see here is a matter of ignorance regarding what should be basic civilized behavior. It’s not just flags, but religious symbols and, in fact, even each other and ourselves. Take something that is far more worthy of respect even than symbols like the flag or the cross: the human body. The body is the Temple of the Holy Spirit says St. Paul but how do we treat it? As for women, the young and even the not-so-young dress in ways that even the most brazen prostitutes did not dress years ago. They attend schools, jobs and even church looking like women of the evening. Tattoos have become a craze and not just for men. Women are covering their bodies with huge, bold pictures, many of which would be problematic in a book, never mind on buttocks, breasts and bellies. Every time I see such a thing, I look at my elderly carcass (it was never beautiful even in youth) and say, “Girl, how you are going to REGRET doing that when your butterfly looks like a bath towel!”

    Then there is obesity or, in the alternative, starving oneself into illness to conform to some “body image” acceptable by the culture. Worse still, is the plague of addictions that threaten to overwhelm us. Not just alcohol and hard drugs, but “recreational drugs” and even prescription medication keep God knows what percentage of Americans going every day!

    As we do not treat our OWN bodies with respect, so, too, we fail to treat the property of others – including their bodies – with respect. Look at American drivers. There are days when I enter a car that I feel I should receive a cigarette and a blindfold because I am in as much danger as I would be facing a firing squad! People have no compunction about taking what doesn’t belong to them whether it is at work or in stores – and these are ordinary people, not what we would call “criminals.” Furthermore the higher one goes with regard to civil and commercial power, the larger the crimes and the bolder the criminals. We have a government that is frequently no better morally than the old time Mafia! What’s yours is mine – and what’s mine is mine, as the old saying goes – at least in government.

    No, disrespect of the flag, usually in ignorance, is only a symbol of a culture that has strayed into darkness and one wonders if it will ever again find the light.

  2. James says:

    Dear Madam,
    Your observations and conclusions are well-founded. Humankind is shortsighted, selfish and cowardly, hence easily manipulated, and, in the long run, condemned. As for the “history of progress”, mainstream histories are made up of a few selected facts, chosen by, and to support the dominant manipulators and victors, of the times they are written. There have been advances in medicine, as well as the accumulation of material, but not in happiness. There has, essentially, been no progress, and thus, we should be proud to be called “reactionaries”, by our detractors.

    All that we have left, it seems to yours truly, is our circles of loyal bonding and community, supported by our “old-fashioned” codes of morality and conduct, and enhanced by our cultures, and by the examples we hold dear, from our “reactionary” histories, to carry us through each day, with self-respect and dignity.
    Thank you.
    A New Jersey Copperhead

  3. Michael C. Lucas says:

    I understand the reverence for the Confederate National Flag, however this is a Battle Flag as an ensign they were painted with statements, battle honors, names etc. . . So as I see it there was no dishonor in what was done. Now there are historical flags and other flags with Wildlife, Harleys and various personages that compared with what these men were doing are far more outrageous. Reverance is all well a good thing but if that reverence impedes freedom of speech then what is more precious? Reverence or the Freedom to express it?

  4. Mr. Lucas,

    Thank you for writing. I can only reply with my own thoughts on this. It is not a simple matter of marking on the flag, but also of who is doing the marking.

    If we – here today – were the men fighting under that battle flag, and we were marking that battle flag to commemorate those battles that we had fought, then I would agree. Those who fought and bled under that battle flag would have every right to mark it as they saw fit. We, however, are not those men. We enjoy the benefits of those who did the actual fighting, but we did not earn those benefits – they were given to us by those who came before us.

    The right to mark on a battle flag belongs only to those who fought under it. We have not earned that right. Our place is to respect and reverence it, anything more than that diminishes those who did the fighting.

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