Should the Museum of the Confederacy’s Appomattox Museum Fly a Confederate Flag?

Word comes that when the Museum of the Confederacy opens its Appomattox branch museum at month’s end, it will not fly a Confederate flag outside the museum … although apparently there will be plenty of Confederate banners inside the facility.  There’s an online petition to protest this decision, and, as one might suspect, there are howls of protest from certain quarters.

Above is a long view of the planned structure.  Below is a view of the entry, with its flagpoles flying state flags and the United States national colors.

I can see a case for flying a Confederate flag outside the building (not, I should add, the Confederate battle flag, but the Third National flag opposite the US national colors for 1865).  That would be an accurate historical rendering.  However, I have no strong feelings either way.  Rather, I’m interested in visiting the museum this coming summer.

What do you think?

22 thoughts on “Should the Museum of the Confederacy’s Appomattox Museum Fly a Confederate Flag?

  1. John Foskett March 12, 2012 / 2:50 pm

    I don’t see a big problem with flying it here (and I am prone to generally viewing that flag as embodying treason, among other nefarious ideals). It’s a museum dedicated to specific historical subject matter with which the flag is consistent (and it’s a private 501(c)(3), not a publicly-supported entity). It seems to me that if one objects to this facility flying the flag, he/she should also be objecting to the facility itself. Of course, I also understand a decision not to fly the flag, because the museum risks seeming to condone all of the bad things it has come to stand for. .

  2. Phil LeDuc March 12, 2012 / 3:02 pm

    I think your idea of the Third National Flag and the 1865 US colors is a rather solomonic solution. A good compromise for all.

  3. Arleigh Birchler March 12, 2012 / 3:47 pm

    I don’t see a problem with flying it there, or anywhere else, but I don’t spend a lot of time worrying about it. I don’t put a lot of thought or emotion into any flag.

  4. Margaret D. Blough March 12, 2012 / 4:22 pm

    Wouldn’t Brooks’ solution constitute treating the flag of the rebellion as a national flag on a par with the United States’ flag? I’d have problems with that since I doubt that, at any point during the Civil War that, the US government would have permitted any “national” flag of the Confederacy to be formally displayed where it controlled the territory.

  5. wgdavis March 12, 2012 / 4:30 pm

    Agreed. Fly them both side by side, as long as the current US flag has the highest staff.

  6. Bill Newcomer March 12, 2012 / 4:44 pm

    From looking at the Museum’s WWW site, it appears to be a not-for-profit group interested in preserving real history. The plans for the dedication seemed pretty fair and balanced. That said, what flag they fly is in the end, their decision, But if the intent is to preserve real history, I agree with the sentiment expressed here that it should be historically accurate…

  7. Phil March 12, 2012 / 5:41 pm

    For years I’ve heard people say that Confederate flags belong in museums, not flying in public. Granted, it is not exactly a nuanced symbol, but I’d suggest that if it’s inappropriate to fly it at the venue whose actual mission is to provide historical context for that symbol, then there really is little point to the museum in the first place.

  8. Lyle Smith March 12, 2012 / 8:06 pm

    One of the national Confederate flags would be appropriate. It is just a recognition that Virginia was once a Confederate state. It’s common to do this across the country along with the Spanish, French and English/British flags or flags of whatever government that flew over that particular place. It’s a history lesson in and of itself.

  9. Jerry Desko March 12, 2012 / 8:54 pm

    My preference would be the only flags displayed outdoors should be the United States flag and the state flags. Inside, what ever they want.

    The outdoor space should be reserved for the legitimate banner of a current governmental entity.

  10. Rob Baker March 13, 2012 / 4:24 am

    I think the add on of the CBF or the 3rd National is really just a rallying cry for those that think a cultural genocide is taking place. If I were to post the flags, I would leave the current national where it is, but then off on its own place the 3rd national and the U.S. National 1865, next to each other. That would be a big “If” though.

  11. James F. Epperson March 13, 2012 / 4:39 am

    I like the idea of the Third National. The Battle Flag has become too controversial, too much of a lightning rod.

  12. Charles Lovejoy March 13, 2012 / 8:40 am

    Being a Museum of the Confederacy I would say yes, what better place for a historic flag to be displayed or flown than a museum.? I don’t think the Navy Jack version should be flown , but one of the Confederate National flags. Maybe even the first and last versions of the Confederate National flags flown side by side.

  13. Bruce Levine March 13, 2012 / 12:30 pm

    I don’t agree. It’s one thing ti DISPLAY an historic flag inside a museum. It’s another to fly it on a flagpole out front. The latter is a position of honor. No Confederate flag deserves that honor.

  14. Charles Lovejoy March 13, 2012 / 4:08 pm

    One Idea, The current US flag in the center at the highest level and the 1st National on one side and the 3rd National on the other a foot or two lower level. Representing the start and ending of the Confederacy with the US flag in the center at a higher level representing the out come of the ACW.

  15. Buck Buchanan March 14, 2012 / 8:34 am

    I would fly the 4 main Confederate flags (Bonnie Blue, 1, 2, 3 National) in the line with the State flags.

    In front I would have 3 flag poles.

    The tallest would have the current US flag; it would be flanked by the 34 & 35 start US, the most commonly carried by Union forces in the war.

  16. Charles Lovejoy March 15, 2012 / 7:16 am

    IMVHO- Flying a version of a Confederate flag or flags on the grounds of the MOC is not honoring anything . In my opinion it just has to do with the historic relevance of the museum, setting the stage of the history inside the museum. I feel a good museum is not just about being informative but should give visitors a sense of stepping back in time. Maybe I’m out of sink here, sometimes I just like to look at historic stuff just because it’s history and the interpretation just as in a piece of art is up to the perception of the person viewing it.

    • Arleigh Birchler March 15, 2012 / 7:50 am

      Charles, what you had to say about museums makes good sense to me. (and my opinion is more humble than yours)

  17. Walter Ring March 20, 2012 / 10:40 am

    If the museum’s job is to teach, isn’t part of their job to teach about the different Confederate Flags as well? All explanations about why they will not fly a Confederate Flag lead to cowardice. In fact, the museum should change its name to Museum of Cowardice. White Southerners are now the most cowardly group on the planet.

    • Brooks D. Simpson March 20, 2012 / 10:51 am

      The Appomattox museum will contain an exhibit that teaches about the Confederate flag, so your objection would seem to be misinformed. Teaching about the history of the flag is different from flying one at the entrance to the facility.

      I don’t think white southerners as a group are cowardly. Some of them stand up in opposition to those folks who attempt to appropriate Confederate heritage to serve their own political and cultural agendas at the expense of the historical record. But we have seen some cowardice in some quarters. A lot of folks who proclaim they embrace Confederate heritage seem skeered of Hunter Wallace. A lot seemed skeered to admit that they agree with him. Connie Chastain seems skeered, period.

      • Walter Ring March 21, 2012 / 10:17 am

        No sir, my objections are not misinformed, but informed by your cowardly decison not to fly any Confederate Flags. Waite Rawls’ explanation as to why only state flags are flown-to teach about state sovereignty-hold no water because state sovereignty ENDED at Appomattox. I stand by what I said-White Southerners-with notable exceptions-are the most cowardly group on Earth-so afraid of offending blacks, yankees, etc. that they censor themselves. No other group on the planet does that. If the MOC wants to be the Museum of Cowardice, that is their right. But at least be honest about it. Don’t fly any flag outside except the 50 star US flag. Be cowardly across the board.

        • Brooks D. Simpson March 21, 2012 / 3:07 pm

          Walter, you seem confused (and that’s being kind). I’m not making any decision concerning flying Confederate flags. Nor am I associated with the MOC. And I don’t think anyone would say that I’m a white southerner.

          I suggest that in the future you read before you respond.

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