As I lay beside my son, unable to drift off to sleep with him during his nap time, my mind wandered into my childhood. The bedroom suite I currently have is that which my parents had when I was his age (considered an antique now). I vaguely remember lying on that bed, in a small military housing apartment. When I was old enough not to take naps, I’d peek in on my brother who still had to take his on that same bed, smugly feeling much more grown-up than a 5-year-old should. He’s almost 5, I should note.
Another detail of that apartment floated up from my sub conscience during these sleepless recollections. It was that of the Confederate battle flag, woven into the decor of our home, next to an American flag. It hung there out of pride of who we are. See, at the time, we were stationed in England. Americans far away from home. Not only Americans far away from home, but Southerners, more specifically, out of sorts in a land among foreigners. Those flags were just a tie to who we were… who we are. A representation of home.
It’s like Texans… you ever meet a real Texan, you know it. They are darn proud of who they are. When you meet them and ask, “So, where you from?” Their chests swell out, and they smirk with pride as they answer, “Texas.” No city, no county; just “Texas”. Texans innately have pride in who they are. Having been an independent Republic, self-sustaining, sought after for what their land had to offer, these decedents of those original Texans have pride in who they are. Their identity in who they are is strong.
It’s much like we Southerners. We are a proud, strong people. The south was a wild region, forged by those strong enough to tame it, desired over decades by countries for its resources, and fought over with passion numerous times. Its history, good, bad, and ugly, has molded Southerners into a people unlike any other. And that same battle flag which once hung in my house as a child, that now has sadly become so tainted, is a symbol of its history. It is a battle flag, and Southerners of all walks of life, all colors, all socioeconomic backgrounds are fighters. Our identity is strong.
To say that Southerners fly the Stars and Bars because we are full of hate is a gross stereotype. And since we’re all in a state of offense- I am offended by the supposition. It’s like saying that all Texans wear Stetsons and boots, spit tobacco, and ride horses simply because they’re from Texas. Some do, but certainly not all. All Southerners do not fly it because we hate or because we are racist. It is flown because we are a proud people. Proud of who we were, who we are.
I cannot argue that the flag is unoffensive to some, but will readily agree that it has become so, and understandably. Putting myself into the shoes of others, I can certainly empathize. So, do not misunderstand my thoughts here. I do not argue that it is unoffensive in this modern times. However, I do argue against ignorance. Ignorance leads to misunderstanding, misconception, and ultimately, chaos.
History has unequivocally proven that tyrants thrive on those ignorant of truth to create chaos thus creating the opportunity to rule.
Despite the current tribulations surrounding the South, I am incredibly proud to be a Southerner. The DNA of a long line of Southerners is woven into the blood that pumps through my heart each and every day. For 300 years, my family has inhabited lands south of the Mason Dixon line. They were self-made men who raised their families in the South. Many of them fought for the Confederacy for the same principles that their grandfathers had fought in the Revolutionary War. Some of those principles, pride, honor, hard work, and the (now dying) American dream are among some of those I hope to pass down.
I’m not ashamed to say it, though in today’s world some would rather I be.