Respecting the Flag: A Query

Many of you are doubtless familiar with one of my favorite photographs of the American Civil War: that of Abraham Lincoln looking straight at George McClellan when he visited the general’s headquarters in October 1862.

lincoln McClellan 01  Most people are familiar with this image, although there was a second image taken at the same time:

Lincoln McClellan 02Note the sunlight on McClellan’s face and the slightly different position of Lincoln’s head, as if he’s looking past his general.

But there are two other matters of interest to me about this photograph. Let’s stay with the second image, and zoom out a bit:

Lincoln McClellan CBFSomething that’s plain with all three images is the use of the national colors as a tablecloth, which strikes me as odd and disrespectful … but perhaps people thought differently back then. What strikes me even more is the Confederate banner on the ground next to the table in question (I know of no other image showing Lincoln with a Confederate flag).

podium onePodium twoFinally, these two images suggest that people have found other uses for the Confederate battle flag that strike me as disrespectful. I’m not sure why someone would drape a flag over a podium. Then again, McClellan draped the national colors over a table, and I’m not too wild about that. Have traditions changed? In any case, is this the proper way to display a flag?

What do you think?

By the way, speakers usually have little input on the appearance of the podium. They do have a choice on whether to speak at a podium, however (I usually use one as a point of departure).