Saturday, July 11, 2015

The Confederate Flag

I'm heading to Charleston soon, Charleston, South Carolina, for a quick visit with my cousin and her husband as they tour the city. Since our son went to school there, graduated from The Citadel in 1998, we know the places of interest enough to be guides. Well, at least we know the can't-miss restaurants that serve shrimp and grits and other low country cuisine with fried fish and hushpuppies. Yum. They are in for a culinary treat.

But I wonder how different Charleston is today from the almost twenty years ago when we first dropped our son off at his barracks for his "knob" week. Or how different Charleston is today from a month ago, before the horrific shootings. More than that, how different Charleston is today from yesterday morning.

Yesterday the Confederate flag flew on the grounds of the South Carolina state capitol.

Today it doesn't.

The flag is a symbol I am just now realizing.  I have no ancestral connection to it, being born in Pennsylvania to northern parents whose ancestors, I'm sure, fought against that very flag. We moved south when I was five years old and my mother tried her best to fit our family into the culture.

But, contrary to what many may think, that never included the Confederate flag. Never. I saw it rarely, if at all, during my early years. It's just not part of my past. These were the years before color TV and cable news channels and social media. We were busy growing up southern and learning to duck under desks in air raid drills and protesting the Viet Nam War and riding in buses that passed by black children standing on the side of the road, waiting for their buses to carry them to their separate schools.

The graveyard at the church I attend is the final resting place for soldiers from the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, on up through Viet Nam. On Veteran's Day every year the cemetery committee places flags on every veteran's grave. American flags. Every veteran.

As I researched the Pilot Mountain School story, I ran across a newspaper article from the early fifties. The Daughters of the Confederacy had donated a Confederate flag to every school in the county. So in my interviews, I asked, "Do you remember seeing the Confederate flag at the school?" To a person, the answer was "No."

In fifty years, when an author interviews people who were the children of today and asks that same question, to a person, the answer will be "No."

My heritage and faith is to look to scripture for guidance and in the first letter of Corinthians, chapter 8, verse 13, Paul writes, "So if what I eat causes another believer to sin, I will never eat meat again as long as I live, for I don't want to cause another believer to stumble." That verse on not offending others could be paraphrased to fit this situation as well, "So if what I fly causes another believer to sin, I will never fly this again as long as I live." 

Powerful words.

Catch of the day,


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