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 The Confederate Flag: Purpose in the Past and Present 
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The discussion we had in class yesterday about holding onto your roots which led to discussing the display of the rebel flag in the south sparked my interest and I still have questions. I have grown up in the South my entire life. I understand people's need to express their appreciation of their home and what they came from and the struggles they overcame to be where they are. I do think that is important. However, the thing I have the hardest time understanding is the connection that people our age now have to that struggle that was present when the Confederate flag was in existence. Everyone spoke in class about the people of the South and how everything was taken away from them during the Civil War. I know this and understand how Southerners might hold a pride in flying the Confederate flag right after the Civil War...like the people who ACTUALLY lost everything wanting to glorify what they had before. But what is the struggle that people today deal with in which they find solace in flying the Confederate flag?

One of my biggest pet peeves is people continually blaming others for things that happened to a group that they belong to way back in the past. For instance, when African Americans lash out at white people TODAY about slavery. That happened over 100 years ago! The people that are alive today and are complaining weren't slaves, so I don't see how their argument is valid. If they were complaining about the EXISTING problem of racial discrimination, that would be a completely different story. In the same light, I don't understand the true purpose of Southerners raising the confederate flag...especially in a society today that usually relates it as a symbol of endorsing slavery. Is it really a necessary symbol to display when it sends mixed messages that are not usually positive?

I do think that knowing history and learning from the past is important, but that doesn't mean we need to continue to remain IN THE PAST. How do we move forward towards a future if we are so stuck in the events and struggles of the past?

I really do question these things and I don't mean to offend anyone...I just honestly want to know some answers from someone who may see this in a different light.

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Emily Fox :)


Wed Oct 29, 2008 2:15 pm
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My dear friend, I believe that I understand your struggle, but here is the deal...who are you to say that an individual should no longer carry the confederate flag. This is a free country, and we are allowed to do what we please as long as we do not hinder another person's freedom in the process.

Example: The symbol of the swastika to many people today means the superiority of the "Arian race," even though in reality this race is no race at all. We also associate this symbol with the holocaust and the killing of millions of people both Jewish and non-Jewish alike. However, this symbol to other people mean something completely different. There are religious groups that have existed for many years who use this symbol of peace and prosperity and unity. Do you have the right to say those religious groups including Jainism should do away with that symbol? I think not. It means so much to them, and it is a great part of their history.

History is important to all people. Often we wonder where we came from. We like to know our heritage, and what our grandparents did for a living. Heritage is not something to toss in the trash like an old flag.

Today the confederate flag represents for some people, states rights. We still, in our nation today, with the fact that the national government takes away state rights, sometimes. The confederate flag still has a positive living meaning for some people.

I understand, dear Emily, that you would rather people not live in the past, or at least put old battles to rest. Often I feel that way, too. Why hold a grudge, when you can let it go and move on? However, our heritage does not have to hold a grudge. It depends on the way the individual interprets it.

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Lianna Denise Beard


Wed Oct 29, 2008 8:19 pm
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I think it's funny that over a time symbols come to mean something almost completely different than their original intent. I don't mean to offend anyone. These are simply my observations.

I would consider the high school I attended in Greenville, NC to be suburban. There was a strong mix between the races and the classes. Both upper middle, suburban, Anglo-Saxon neighborhoods were represented as well as very rural areas and as black and white trailer parks. In my school, you often saw the Confederate flag displayed on the trucks (who had been out mudding) owned by lower income or rural, white males. You would also see the Confederate flag worn on t-shirts by white, rural, lower income males and females. I never saw an African American or an individual of a non-white race wear or display a Confederate flag at school. To them, the symbol was a display of Southern pride, their heritage and their roots. It kind of set them apart from others. Although these students often called other people Yankees "as a joke," I never saw them use the symbol to look down on African Americans or make any reference to slavery.

Personally, I don't like the symbol, but I agree with Lianna that people do have freedom of speech, and it doesn't always mean something bad. There are lots of different interpretations.

I hope I have made sense and not stepped on anyones toes.

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Heather Lynn Rulifson


Thu Oct 30, 2008 9:46 am
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I can see both Emily's and Lianna's perspective on this. I took the Civil War class here at Appalachian, and I felt like I learned so much from that class; not only about the South and WHY they still feel the way they do, but also other perspectives. A good book to read that really encompasses why the South is still so passionate about the Civil War is called Confederates in the Attic. Check it out if you're really interested, it's a great book that explains a lot about peoples way of thinking in the South and why we are still so deeply embedded in the Civil War and it's cause.

I can agree with Lianna on some points on this issue. History is important to people. And I love when people are so into their heritage and embrace their past and their ancestors. But I do have to make the argument that most people who fly the Confederate flag probably have no idea of the historical meaning of it. There is probably only a select few who fly the flag who actually have an idea of why the South seceded. Some people who fly the Confederate flag probably have no idea that the actual "battle flag" that we know so well was only used in a few select battles and was never the actual "rebel flag". Personally, I think that yes, it is a free country and people can fly the flag if they want to (how Lianna put it). But I think that the flag has become more a sign of ignorance and racism, not a sign of free will and independence like it was intended to be (if you want to take the "historical" route).

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Paige Kathleen Colbath


Thu Oct 30, 2008 11:14 am
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I agree with you Heather about how funny it is to see how symbols meanings seem to evolve overtime. I also had a very simular experience with the Confederate Flag at my high school. It was most likely found on trucks of the white male population. I wonder though if they even realized the true meaning behind the symbol or did they have it displayed simply as a means of fitting in with friends?? Are Confederate Flags to some just a fad, or do they really believe in (or even know about) the true meaing behind them??

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katielewis


Thu Oct 30, 2008 12:20 pm
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Katie, I think you might be right about displaying the Confederate flag being a fad especially for Western North Carolina. This particular area was basically divided over secession and in some area support for the Union was far greater than for the Confederacy. When I see the flag being flow here I have to think is it really about their heritage. Heritage makes a good argument, but given the split over support to begin with I also think some people are confused about their own personal history.

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Thomas Lloyd Walker


Thu Oct 30, 2008 12:39 pm
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I just wanted to mention something... has anyone seen the movie "Dukes of Hazzard", the relatively new one? Well, if you haven't, the point I just wanted to make, was that the car was named "the General Lee", after Robert E. Lee, and the Confederate Flag was painted on top of the roof (I know that this was probably true in the t.v. show, but I never really watched that, so the new movie is my reference). I believe they live in Georgia and when they go to Atlanta, they run into a crowd of Black men, and upon them seeing the car, they get angry. I honestly would too, because to me, I have my own beliefs as to what the Confederate flag means, and it's not just a fad, I see it as a racist symbol. I understand that it can mean different things, but to me, I only really see that one meaning.

I have a feeling that some of those people out there who got a Confederate flag tattoo, with the intent to have it mean racism, are regretting it now (I am not trying to say that everyone who got a Confederate Flag tattoo got it to mean that they were racists and that they regret it, including Lia's step-brothers, who she mentioned in class). I think that people will regret it because they can finally see that most people are no longer the same ignorant fools that believe if you are Black then you are inferior, or if you believe in something other than God then you are going straight to Hell. People have changed and hopefully their opinions have changed to accept others for who they are (if not, then that's their opinions and I am not bashing others for their opinions... or trying not to).

I feel like I'm not being completely clear, so if you have no idea what I am trying to say, then just ask :)

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Kelly York


Thu Oct 30, 2008 3:12 pm
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As in any war, the poorest members of society do the fighting for the upper class's cause. That is definitely true of the Civil War where poor whites and slaves were asked to fight while the plantation owners stayed home. To the poor whites the Civil War was not a war about slavery, because they had no slaves, but a war about defending their homes from what they saw as a "northern aggression". I hope that this clears up some of the reasons that people still use the Confederate flag as a heritage symbol. Also I would like to point out that what we all consider to be the Confederate flag is actually a battle flag and there are many many other Confederate flags.

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Zach Yokley


Sat Nov 01, 2008 11:36 am
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I have grown up in North Carolina my whole life, but I will say that I grew up in a rather urban setting, and so I think that my views here are definitely a product of that setting. First, I do respect people's beliefs, their views, and their rights, even though I don't always agree with them. I personally don't really have that much of a problem with the display of a confederate flag, however, I was raised in an atmosphere that views the confederate flag as a sign of racism. I also grew up in a world in which people remarked (upon seeing the confederate flag) "oh get over it, the South lost." I would personally never display this flag, as it seems to me personally to have a negative connotation. However, I do realize that there are people who do not view it in this way, and I feel that I would be ignorant to believe that people didn't have the right to display this symbol as a means of expression. In regards to the original question, I obviously grew up in a world in which the "let bygones be bygones" theory applied. Many times I agree with this, and sometimes even in this particular case. But, at the same time I also see the point in letting people have the freedom to express a part of their culture.

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Brynne Pulver, Music Education/Vocal Performance


Wed Nov 05, 2008 1:34 am
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