On Monday, May 26 we will celebrate Memorial Day, an official federal holiday which according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs “commemorates the men and women who died while in military service.”
This is where it gets tricky, “while in military service”, leaves open “military service” to whom? The United States of America, our allies, our enemies, the Confederate States of America? Under the Veterans Administration’s National Cemetery Administration Directive 3220 the flag of the Confederate States of America — a sworn enemy of the United States of America — is permitted to be flown on Memorial Day at national cemeteries administered by the Department of Veterans Affairs. Confederate flags are not permitted to be flown at national cemeteries administered by the U.S. Park Service, e.g., Gettysburg, nor are they permitted at national cemeteries administered by the Department of the Army, e.g., Arlington.
I was born and raised in Charleston, SC, and my great grandfather and two of his brothers fought for the Confederacy. He was captured at Gettysburg, one brother died there, and his last brother died at the battle in Petersburg, VA., in 1864. I have no illusions about the loyalty and courage my ancestors exhibited in their allegiance to the Confederacy. And they should be and are rightfully honored on Confederate Memorial Day at various cemeteries around the South — May 10, et al.
I also have no illusions about what the Confederate flag represented in the South of my youth in the 1950s and 1960s. It was then and is now often used as a symbol of racism, fear, and intimidation to persons of color and also non-Protestant religions — Catholics and Jews. This is not what our country stands for today or in the future. It is not what I and many others fought for in Vietnam.
This coming Memorial Day marks the 125th celebration of Memorial Day at the Los Angeles National Cemetery. I will be protesting for the fourth consecutive year against the flying of the Confederate flag at the L.A. National Cemetery. I ask you to join me in demonstrating for “no Confederate flags” at the National Cemetery located in West Los Angeles at Sepulveda and Wilshire boulevards from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. If you cannot attend be sure to contact your elected representative and/or the Department of Veterans Affairs.
God bless us all and God bless the United States of America.