Yesterday, my day at the military museum, a board member asked if I’d be interested in taking on responsibility for the museum, a part-time job. There hasn’t been anyone in charge since the person who held the job moved in August from the museum to another city job.
Though the idea sounds fun, I have no particular qualifications for the job other than being a veteran and having an interest in the museum. I also know my health issues make the job’s physical aspects difficult to impossible to do. I declined.
I enjoy my Thursdays at the museum, though. I catch up on my reading, for example. Or talk with other veterans, some of whom flew bombers in WWII among other things too fantastic to pin on seemingly ordinary human beings. It reminds me of the burdens of war. I recalibrate and temper my patriotism to the realities, the cost of freedom at the museum. It’s a decent return for three hours of my time!
I have some nagging issues with some things I find there, however. If I ran the place, these items wouldn’t have prominent display. If displayed, they’d have detailed explanations of their history, including current uses that make them provocative symbols that promote an extreme right-wing element of one political party.
I’m not speaking of Nazi and Japanese flags behind uniforms of those two nations or other symbols of those failed, vile political movements the Allied Forces defeated in WWII.
I am speaking of these:
Here’s a better view of the Gadsden flag:
Freedom of speech is a guaranteed right, but wanton promotion of a nihilistic agenda – bring the Federal government to its knees, then kill it – is sedition bordering on treason when it results in actual temporary shutdown of the Federal government.
These two flags represent that movement to many people who love the United States of America and worry that extremists will spoil 237 years of progress toward those ideals set down in the founding documents. The museum memorializes and celebrates those people who fought to promote those freedoms, who loved the country and that government they fought to save. “E pluribus unum” not “My way or else, and you better be white.”
NOTE: The Gadsden flag used to be displayed hanging loosely from its staff. There was an American flag next to it. At some point, the American flag was moved into the main room, and the Gadsden flag was wrapped around the pillar, as shown in the photo. It is next to a display case featuring two US Army uniforms donated by someone I know (a retired US Army Colonel) who supports the Tea Party. That’s what makes me think of it as inappropriate without presentation of the flag’s historic use prior to its 2009 adoption by the Tea Party for its purposes.
On the other side of the Civil War cannon (barely seen in the photo) is another display featuring a replica Revolutionary War army uniform with a historic US flag behind it. It appears to be a 15-star flag. In this context, the Gadsden flag on display makes more sense.
You’ll note the rattlesnake on the display flag varies from the historic depiction, with its 18th Century quirkiness.
The Confederate flag bumper stickers represent a complex and troubling symbol of a rebellion that cost more than 620,000 lives (more than all other US war losses combined) and still colors American life 150 years later: It is a symbol of treason against the United States of America to many people, of simple rebellion against any authority to others, a racist symbol, a symbol of the Southern way of life that ended with the Civil War – “The War of Yankee Aggression”, as a Southern member of the current US Congress recently characterized it…!
Some links to history:
Gadsden flag history
history of Confederate flags
Weggieboy, when you were little you very likely had a furry Daniel Boone hat. The kids in my neighborhood had those and, later, gray flannel Confederate cap replicas, complete with stars and bars stitched in front. They were meaningless playthings for Nebraska school kids who saw them on all the time in the 1960s on TV and in the movies. They were as common as the little six-shooters on our hips. I share your concern over this brainless adoption of historic items as adult “playthings.” They use these symbols without any consideration of the blood, sacrifice and horror behind them. They are also being used without any thought to the blood, sacrifice and horror that they could create now. Take comfort that these folks are a tiny minority. Reason will prevail.This, too, will pass, and someday we will look back on this as just another shameful chapter of America.
I hope so.
As for the Confederate cap and coonskin caps, television didn’t take off in the western end of the state till after these fads hit elsewhere in the nation and faded. I remember the coonskin caps, but my parents didn’t spoil me with one. (Yeah, I wanted one!)