This past Saturday, many witnessed, yet again, the struggle between Confederate pride and the perception of the Confederacy by others. Right along I-95 in the town of Chester, Virginia, a 15 by 15’ Confederate flag was hoisted high above the tree line, which will be seen by tens of thousands every day driving on the busy highway. The celebration was part of the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg, where hundreds gathered to remember those who fought for the South during the Civil War.
Unfortunately, not everyone was in agreement about the message this display of Dixie pride conveyed. Brian Cannon, a lawyer who organized a social media protest against the ceremony, stated, “It’s a symbol of divisiveness, and for many it’s hateful.” This argument indeed holds true, for it is difficult for most Americans not to have reservations when it comes to displaying a symbol which once stood for slavery and oppression. On the other side of the argument is James Eaton, the man whose property the flag was raised upon. “It’s not a black and white thing,” he replies, “it’s strictly for sentimental reasons – remembering the Confederate heritage and our relatives that fought in it.”
Herein lied the concern over safety. Many were worried that this ceremony would attract unwanted attention by those who would attempt to insight violence in protest. One resident nearby was specifically worried for his daughter and granddaughter’s safety. Fortunately for him and others in the surrounding area, the ceremony went on as planned, leaving only a raised flag and the looming controversy to come regarding the true message behind this symbol of the South.