Posted on Aug 22, 2014
CPT Aaron Kletzing
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Confed2
Confed
Recently, I had a long and heated discussion with a fellow veteran about this issue. I don't know for sure whether a branch-specific reg or a DoD-wide reg exists that prohibits/allows personnel on a military installation to display the Confederate flag on their personal vehicle or on their person (e.g. a belt buckle). Maybe this is a base-specific policy and left to the judgment of the installation commander. Display of the Confederate flag is a divisive issue and people often feel really strongly one way or the other. But today, it is still a relevant topic and touches on other military leadership/discipline areas, including the actions of one member deeply offending another member -- regardless of whether said action is legal/authorized. That can create huge problems in a military unit, and this happened in a unit I personally served in. So, below are my questions for the RallyPoint community about this issue.

Please try to keep comments professional (don't attack one another) and explain your thoughts as best you can.

Questions:
(1) How do you feel about the Confederate flag being displayed on the vehicle/person of a service member if he/she is ON post? How does your opinion change if the member is OFF post?
(2) What does the Confederate flag symbolize to you personally? What do you think it can symbolize to other people around you who may perceive it differently?
(3) If you have personally experienced a military-related situation where a symbol/flag caused someone to be offended, what happened and what did you/would you have done as the leader?

I look fwd to everyone's thoughts on this. Personally, I have some strong feelings about this issue, though I don't want to bias people's answers upfront. Please be as honest as possible.

Tag: SSG Emily Williams Lt Col (Join to see) 1SG Steven Stankovich SSG Scott Williams 1LT Sandy Annala CPT (Join to see) SSG V. Michelle Woods MSG Carl Cunningham
Edited 5 y ago
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Responses: 318
CPL Laie Holloway
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Umm all I have to say is that I'm black and I have the Mississippi flag (which has the Confederate flag in it) tattooed on my left arm. It's just a symbol of the south. It doesnt necessarily mean hate. Now the Swastika is a whole different meaning... ban that instead of the Confederate flag.
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Maj Martin Smith
Maj Martin Smith
6 mo
Check out the former patch worn by the Oklahoma National Guard division before WW ll!
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LTJG Jeb Raitt
LTJG Jeb Raitt
6 mo
The Cionfederate flag is and has always been a symbol of armed rebellion against the established order and should be TOTALLY banned except in specific historical contexts. And as much as possible, in such contexts one of the actual National Flags of the Confederacy (there were three) should be used instead of the Battle Flag.
(One such context is in the Confederate section of the Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond, VA, where they fly the Third National.)
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CW5 State Standardization Instructor Pilot
CW5 (Join to see)
4 mo
LTJG Jeb Raitt - The American flag is also a symbol of armed rebellion against the established order. Be careful what you ask for. You just might get it.
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SPC Infantryman
SPC (Join to see)
4 mo
Why is the swastika different?
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SSG V. Michelle Woods
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Sir

1. My opinion regarding the Confederate flag remains the same whether a servicemember is on or off post.

2. To me, the Confederate flag symbolizes home. It's a symbol of comfort because it reminds me of the culture and traditions I share with the people from the Deep South. It also represents people who were willing to lose it all to defend their state's rights.

To others, I believe the flag can represent racism, disloyalty to the USA and/or a country torn apart from this inside. I know where I'm from, there are many who still "smell the powder burning".

3. Yes I have been in this situation before however it was with the Texas State flag. I had a little flag in my "cellar" in Afghanistan and people would pick it up and talk smack. I was extremely offended by it and I expressed my feelings in the most Christian way possible but I left it at that.
Excluding the Bible or cross, if I had a symbol that offended someone, I would take it down. It would definitely be hard to swallow my pride but for me personally, I subject myself to the Bible regulations and that means if it isn't promoting Christ then it's not a battle worth fighting. No I'm not holier than thou or anything but I do try to follow Jesus' example.

However as a leader I would not expect the same from my soldiers because they may not hold themselves accountable to the Bible. The way I would handle it would be a case-by-case basis, however I would try to ensure my decision reflected my two basic responsibilities: accomplish the mission and take care of my soldiers.
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Cpl Wessley Rodgers
Cpl Wessley Rodgers
9 mo
Sgt Richard Sprague - Sergeant Sprague, slavery existed on the African continent for centuries before the New World was colonized, and in the New World, the slave markets opened in the Spanish and Portuguese colonies years before those in the US. I'm not trying to excuse the US, but they were a relative late-comer to he game.
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PO2 Russell Galloway
PO2 Russell Galloway
9 mo
Very well stated SSG.
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SGT Jd Creager
SGT Jd Creager
8 mo
its history and no 9one should disrespect our ancestors
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Tim DeGroat
Tim DeGroat
8 mo
Excellent !!!
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CPT All Source Intelligence
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Arguing that people shouldn't judge you or assume things based on these displays is utter crap: if that's the case, why are you displaying it?

If you understand nothing else out of this entire thread, understand that people have extremely strong opinions about this issue, for and against. Every day you are judged by people before you speak based on how you look, how you are dressed, how tall you are..., etc. If you feel that you are in a position where making the best possible first impression is irrelevant for you, by all means, plaster your vehicle with your flags (confederate, rainbow, TX, Cuban, or otherwise), symbols (peace, hammer and sickle, Calvin peeing on a Chevy, whatever), and various sexual/political/hometown slogans. Wear your gang's bandanna, your football team's belt buckle, I don't care. But know that you are screaming information about yourself to everyone who sees it. Information that you may never have an opportunity to correct. You can puff yourself up and proclaim that the problem is them and not you but it will absolutely not change that first impression.

Look, I get that for you personally, it might mean something else. A great example is that someone might have an OIF veteran license plate, but that in no way means he/she supported the Iraq war on an ideological level or votes republican, but those are all things a viewer might assume. If you don't care that people will assume that, get the plate. If you do, you have to think about that fact before deciding to broadcast that information.

If you read my other posts on lots of topics, you know that I am against the idea of banning things. To ban something is to give it power. If you don't like it, ignore it. But on the other side, drop the argument that you mean something different when you fly the flag. That would be like saying I have a Miami Dolphins sticker on my car because I'm from Miami, not because I like that team. That might be 100% true, but that's not the impression my sticker gives the the majority of people viewing it. I can dislike that or disagree, but I can't try to say all of those people are wrong for making a perfectly valid assumption. Pointing out that there is different historical information doesn't take away from the umpteen interactions I have personally had with bigoted people using this exact symbol. You need to give those people your information and tell them to stop using this symbol if it means so much to you. You are arguing with the wrong individuals.
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SGT Jd Creager
SGT Jd Creager
8 mo
Who cares, if you are judging on your opinion of how a person looks you are wrong.
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SGT Jd Creager
SGT Jd Creager
8 mo
Cpl Wessley Rodgers - There was Union or federaland then the Confederate.... The Union was not called United States Soldiers at the time.
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CPL Christopher Adamczyk
CPL Christopher Adamczyk
7 mo
Up north we view the as flag of sedition. A flag for failed a rebellion over the states rights...states rights to own slaves.
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Maj Martin Smith
Maj Martin Smith
6 mo
I'm pretty sure we are the only country in the world that tolerates the flag of a failed armed rebellion to be displayed or flown!
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