Society

Confederate Flag To Remain In National Cemeteries

| by Nik Bonopartis
Confederate flags at Indian Mound Cemetery in West Virginia.Confederate flags at Indian Mound Cemetery in West Virginia.

Confederate flags won't disappear from military cemeteries any time soon.

Rep. Jared Huffman, a California Democrat, sought to ban "large-scale displays" of the controversial flag from Department of Veterans Affairs cemeteries by inserting a prohibition into a spending package, but Republicans dropped the amendment before passing the package on June 23, according to The Hill.

Huffman's amendment would have prohibited large confederate flags, including banners, from VA grounds like Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia. Relatives and descendants of fallen veterans would still be permitted to place smaller Confederate flags on individual graves on Memorial Day and Confederate Memorial Day, The Hill said.

After putting the amendment forward in May, Huffman said it was well past time to minimize the controversial flag's presence in American war cemeteries.

"Over 150 years ago, slavery was abolished," Huffman said. "Why in the year 2016 are we still condoning displays of this hateful symbol on our sacred national cemeteries?"

On June 23, Huffman said dropping the amendment was an affront to the victims of the June 17, 2015 shooting at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina. The alleged shooter, 21-year-old Dylann Roof, reportedly took the lives of nine people and later said he hoped to spark a race war.

"It is shameful that Republicans would once again seek to allow Confederate battle flags, a historic symbol of hate, to be flown over VA cemeteries," Huffman wrote in a statement. "Republicans are showing where their allegiance lies -- and it is not with the victims of gun violence."

Despite the House vote, there's been a widespread effort to remove the flag from stores, private institutions and public property, particularly since the shooting in South Carolina. Most famously, South Carolina removed the flag from its statehouse in the wake of the shooting and widespread criticism.

In Virginia and Georgia, where the flag appears on some license plates, lawmakers and governors in those states are leading efforts to remove the flag. For example, Virginia drivers can buy specialized license plates marked with the flag and the organization "Sons of Confederate Veterans."

Likewise, the Confederate flag was pulled from Kmart, Wal-Mart and Amazon, among other online and brick-and-mortar retailers, according to CNN.

Most of those decisions were made in the wake of the Charleston shooting.

"We never want to offend anyone with the products that we offer," Wal-Mart spokesman Brian Nick told CNN in 2015. "We have taken steps to remove all items promoting the confederate flag from our assortment -- whether in our stores or on our website."

Sources: The Hill, CNN, Esquire / Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

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