-

The Observer is a Student-run, daily print & online newspaper serving Notre Dame & Saint Mary's. Learn more about us.

-

archive

Confederate flag closure

Adam Llorens | Friday, October 7, 2011

It has been 146 years since Robert E. Lee and Ulysses S. Grant sat down inside a courthouse in Appomattox, Va. to cease the bloodiest war in American history. The legacy of the Civil War serves as a stark reminder to our grave past. While neither Northern nor Southern states should choose to mark this grim time period with celebration, it is certainly not an event that should soon be forgotten.

Unfortunately, some Americans decide the best way to remember the past is to fly the Confederate battle flag. While this is a travesty in itself, the situation worsens when students, albeit “the best and the brightest,” come from across the world to the University of Notre Dame and use the Confederate flag to “honor” their heritage. Whether it’s hanging in their dorm rooms or wearing it on their clothes, the flag simply does not belong at Notre Dame, a school that prides itself on both its Catholic character and academic strength.

Believe me, I am proud of my roots and heritage, too. I could not be more proud to currently call Grosse Pointe, Mich. home. Likewise, I feel just as honored to have lived nearly 10 years of my life in Franklin, Tenn., a quaint town just south of Nashville that was the site of one of the bloodiest battles in the Civil War.

At the center of the downtown Franklin district is a Confederate memorial statue, honoring the Southern men who lost their lives fighting for their homeland in the Battle of Franklin. No Confederate flags surround the statue. A couple blocks away is McGavock Confederate Cemetery, the largest privately held Confederate cemetery in the United States. Once again, the battle flag is nowhere to be found.

So why at places of upmost respect for the Confederate war efforts do governmental officials and landowners choose not to include the flag for which many of the fallen men fought? They realize that we are 146 years since the conclusion of the bloodiest war in American history. Moreover, they understand that the war was fought, amongst other reasons, over the institution of slavery, an issue that many Americans feel to be the single worst law our country had legalized in its history.

I believe it is plausible to say that when a reason for war is upholding the law of the enslavement of another human being, the battle flag for the pro-slavery side will become a symbol of both hatred and heartache to those who were adversely affected by it. So why has this flag made its way to the University of Notre Dame, an institution that firmly believes in the foundations of diversity and community?

Supporters of the flag will counter, saying the Confederate flag represents heritage, not hate. They will spew off little known facts about the Civil War and twist it so tightly that the issue of slavery will be appear to be a nonexistent reason as to why the South seceded. Membership cards for the Sons of Confederate Veterans and United Daughters of the Confederacy will be brought to the table. They will tell me how the flag is their personal tribute to both their ancestors and homeland. While it’s commendable to take pride in your past and present, it should not be done at the expense of others whom may take offense to certain symbols of pride. The Confederate flag is a symbol both of Southern heritage and slavery and segregation. It’s been used by the Ku Klux Klan and hundreds of other extremist groups.

Saying this, I am respectfully calling for the students of Notre Dame to terminate their usage of the Confederate flag. Far too many have been hurt fighting both for and against the flag. It would pain me to see a member of my Notre Dame family feel distressed because of the flag’s troublesome message.

Contact Adam Llorens at allorens@nd.edu

The views expressed in the Inside Column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.