NOCONA, Texas — It caught our eye as we zipped past along U.S. 82.
Someone was flying two flags on a staff on the north side of the highway: the Stars and Stripes and the Stars and Bars.
Then came the discussion between my wife and me. How can someone fly those two flags, proclaiming allegiance to two disparate symbols? she asked.
Good question. I don’t have a clear answer, because I don’t believe the answer is readily available.
Indeed, the flag at the top of the flag pole — Old Glory — represents the United States of America. All 50 of them these days. The national flag symbolizes a unity of spirit, a common purpose, a sense of oneness. It is meant to provide a beacon of hope to those who aspire to live in the land that is a beacon of freedom and individual liberty.
As for the second flag on that pole, to me it represents something quite different. The Stars and Bars symbolizes the Confederate States of America. In 1861, those 13 states withdrew from the United States of America. Then Confederate fighting men launched an artillery barrage against the Union garrison in Charleston, S.C., harbor.
The Civil War was on. It killed roughly 600,000 Americans, making it the bloodiest conflict in U.S. history.
The soldiers and sailors who fought under that Confederate flag fought to preserve human enslavement. They sought to topple the United States of America. They fought against the Union. They wanted to create a separate nation, one that allowed states to determine who is entitled to the full fruits of citizenship and who should be kept as slaves.
I get that Texas was one of those states that sent troops to fight against the United States. I do not know what’s in the heart of the family is displaying those two flags just east of Nocona, a community known as a place that produces world-class cowboy boots.
We just were taken aback — perhaps for the first time in our lives — at the sight of two flags flying from the same staff. We just wondered how one can fly two symbols that stand for diametrically opposite principles.