Never more important, never more relevant
The most well-known symbol of the South in the world; the Confederate Naval ensign! In dollars, the public relations value is incalculable
by Mark Vogl
Monday, February 27, 2012
At the First Battle of Manassas it became evident that the resemblance of the First National Flag of the Confederacy and the Stars and Stripes confused an already chaotic battlefield environment. The similarity of the colors, combined with the real probability that regiments within the Confederate Army could be in blue, or dark uniforms required an immediate solution to a command and control problem on the modern battlefield. Something must be done. Too much at stake to dawdle with committees, debates, long consideration.
The result was the creation of a battle flag, which would become globally renown as the symbol of a defiant Southern nation. The colors would span the globe as Captain Semmes and the C.S.S. Alabama, and 27 other Confederate ocean-going raiders, along with blockade runners and merchantmen, travelled the high seas. The colors flew on the Pacific waters off the Asian mainland, in the Bering Sea, in the Indian Ocean, all over the Atlantic, and in the Gulf of Mexico.
Here in America the scarlet battle flag would embrace one design, but many, many shades of red and pink, and even blue. The materials available across the South for the making of the flag were uncertain, the exact inks and dyes not always available. And the parochial individualism of commanders, states or regions within the South would have an altering effect on the final product; so the color schemes could differ substantially. Pink battle flags were not uncommon. In the Trans-Mississippi Theatre, the battle flag would begin with a blue field. But, the standard, the one the South grew to know and love, was the red field with a blue cross, and white stars.
The purpose for the colors was always the same. The battle flags design helped create an unmistakable, fear-creating presence on the battlefield. Combined with the rebel yell and the accuracy and unrelenting shock of Confederate infantry fire, a new Southern military identity on the battlefield was created. For commanders, it eased problems of command and control and reduced the number of friendly fire incidents. For the men in the Gray Line, it became their rallying point. The colors grew to become an emotional symbol that literally thousands of the most courageous and more noble within a unit would carry into fire. When mortally wounded, these Confederate heroes would, in their last breathe and effort, pass the colors on to a brother.
The Crimson Cross earned its place in the military history of the world, and in American history. Riddled by ball and shot, drenched in the blood of their men, the colors of the South were born in the horror and glory of a war for Southern independence. More importantly, these colors participated in a desperate fight to preserve the Declaration of Independence and the original Constitution.
As a Southern soul born in a foreign land, New York, the colors were one of the very first things Southern I ever knew. I met them at a youthful age, at the same time I met Marse Robert and Stonewall, and became aware of Fort Sumter and States Rights. My Nana, raised by a one- legged veteran of Thomas Jacksons Corps, would tell of the heroic feats of men from Mecklenburg County, North Carolina. Similar stories were told to countless boys about their own heroes.
In my youth, the colors were everywhere, at NASCAR races, football games, parades, and always at battlefields, or on the covers of books. They hung on walls over the mantle in homes. No matter whether the author was of Southern persuasion, or revisionist in his history, or Yankee in his originality, the battle flag became a marketing symbol unparalleled when telling the story of the Southern struggle.
Across the planet, the crimson cross would come to be known as the highly respected flag of the American southland. And more, the flag would become a global rallying point for diverse peoples of many cultures who were engaged in fighting oppression, tyranny, and occupation. Whether in Berlin when the wall finally came down as the result of the quake of President Ronald Reagan, or in Afghanistan when a defeated Soviet military Goliath withdrew behind its borders, the Confederate battle flag flew!
Over the past one hundred and fifty years, the Confederate flag has gained a global presence equal to symbols like the Christian Cross. Possibly a handful of symbols are so recognized across the entire world. Companies like Coca Cola, McDonalds, Ford have literally spent billions of dollars to create a public presence equal to that of the Confederate battle flag.
And yet, some within the South, even within the southern movement and the Sons of Confederate Veterans want to distance themselves from this revered symbol of courage and liberty.
One must ask, why?
I wont bother with the answers; they are the same as the ones you would hear on the battlefield, at the first crack of a musket, when some would have to fill their canteen, or tie their shoe, or seize up.
Have the Confederate colors been misused, stolen by racist groups? Absolutely. Have our enemies and opponents taken advantage of the misuse of our colors to paint us, the South, with a racist brush? Most definitely! Should we seize the colors back, defend them as ours alone. Without question. These colors are the most recognized symbol of the South and resistance to oppression.
There is a real monetary value to the Confederate flag in todays world. The initial investment in the creation of this symbol was the courage, blood sacrifice and defeat of our ancestors. But more has been invested. All the monuments constructed across the South with monies raised by the United Daughters of the Confederacy. All of the different ceremonies attended by tens of millions, if not hundreds of millions over a one hundred and fifty year span to honor the Cause, and those who perished for it.
The Confederate flag has an immeasurable monetary value. It is world known, and not likely to be forgotten in our lifetime or the foreseeable future. It has grown to become the symbol of the whole South, not just the soldiers who wore gray. If you are Southern, whether liberal or conservative, black or white, this flag is yours; it is how you are initially recognized around the world. Doesnt matter how much you protest it, doesnt matter what you think of it, a world of six billion people recognizes the colors as Dixie, and the values of Dixie.
Our efforts should be towards defining the values the colors represent. We should condemn not only racism, but slavery as evil and a sin. If we argue today that only 5% of Southerners owned slaves, and that the South was attempting to end it on its own, and that it would have ended without a war, than lets just take the next step and condemn it, as you would condemn 50 million American abortions since Roe v. Wade, or the tens of millions of Americans who use illegal drugs!
The Confederate States of America offered a different path for America. It offered a nation where God Himself was invited, in the preamble of the C.S.A. Constitution to provide His wisdom and protection to our nation. It offered an American nation which could not be 17 trillion in debt because the governing mechanisms were not there to allow a lunacy like that. The Confederate States of America offered an alternative America where each state molded and shaped itself independent of the others. South Carolinians knew this in 1860, and know it today.
The Confederate battle flag is not a relic to be placed in a museum behind glass. It is a living breathing symbol of individualism, Christianity, defiance of central authority, and a regional pride in a land called Dixie. Its known across the world, and running from it will not change that.
The battle flag, the defense of the battle flag may be the ultimate and initial step to fulfill the Charge we state at every meeting. And for me, the Charge is second only to my profession of faith said each Sunday at church. Just as I would always embrace my cross, so I would always drape myself in the colors.
Lastly, the flag is a rallying point; a safe place for all men of the South. It is a place of shade and respite. It is a place of history, but also a place where the future can be made. The colors tie together generations of family. From George Washington and Thomas Jefferson to today, the colors are the symbol of one people, within the nation that flies the Stars Stripes.
©2012 Mark Vogl