Tag Archives: Stars and Bars

Stars & Stripes vs. Stars & Bars

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.

Violence erupts in a city known for knowledge

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe has declared a state of emergency in Charlottesville, home of the University of Virginia and a community associated with one of our greatest Americans, our nation’s third president, Thomas Jefferson.

Donald J. Trump has condemned the violence that has erupted there, as he should have done. “We ALL must be united & condemn all that hate stands for. There is no place for this kind of violence in America. Lets come together as one!” the president said via Twitter. Exactly, Mr. President.

White nationalists, some of them wearing Ku Klux Klan garb, are protesting the removal of a Confederate statue. Their presence has prompted counter protests; thus, the clash that is threatening to blow the community apart.

I keep noticing something about the white nationalists marching through Charlottesville. It’s the presence of the Stars and Bars, the flag generally associated with the Confederate States of America, which seceded from the Union in 1861 and commenced the Civil War.

We’ve been debating for the past 150 or so years about the reason for the Civil War. Was it about slavery? About race? Was it about states’ rights? Or southern “heritage”?

Defenders of the Confederacy keep suggesting the Civil War wasn’t about race, or about slavery. They point to the “heritage” issue as the linchpin issue, and that the states didn’t want the federal government dictating to them how to run their internal affairs.

OK. If that’s the case, why do these white nationalists keep marching under the Stars and Bars? What does the presence of the Confederate symbol mean in that context?

For that matter, I should note, too, that one sees that symbol displayed with great “pride” at KKK rallies. Someone will have to explain to me the juxtaposition of the Stars and Bars and the KKK/white nationalists.

I’m all ears. You may now have the floor.

Honor end of Civil War by not honoring it

Think of the term “Civil War.” Is there a greater oxymoron in the English language than that?

War, by definition, is hardly “civil,” if you go by one definition explained in most dictionaries.

And yet, as R.G. Ratliffe notes in his latest Texas Monthly blog, Texas keeps resurrecting memories of the Civil War. He notes as well that the state is going commemorate a sesquicentennial on April 9, which is the 150th year since Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee surrendered his Army of Northern Virginia to U.S. Army Gen. U.S. Grant at Appomattox, Va.


So … let’s get over it, shall we?

The most notorious remembrance of the Civil War is the case that’s being considered by the U.S. Supreme Court to display the Stars and Bars on Texas license plates. The Sons of Confederate Veterans says the flag merely honors Southern heritage. Many of us think otherwise. It’s a symbol of bloody, gruesome conflict. It’s also a symbol, in many eyes, of slave ownership — which offends the millions of African-Americans, not to mention many more millions of whites, who live in Texas.

The upcoming sesquicentennial provides a good time for Texans to put this war behind us.

Texas was on the losing side of this conflict, which killed more than 600,000 Americans. Texas seceded from the Union and sought to join a new nation founded on the notion that “states’ rights” trumped federal law. Texans went to war against the United States of America, thus committing a serious act of treason against the nation.

Do we really want to keep reminding ourselves of this?

I hope not.

The Civil War is over. Done. History.

Let’s allow our children and grandchildren to study it in school, discuss it among themselves and with their teachers and parents. Let us cease reliving it.