“Spending taxpayer money on the flag, and displaying it on a public monument, may be one thing; preventing private citizens from doing it on graves is very different,” said Rep. Rick Mulvaney, R-S.C., Thursday as the U.S. House of Representatives debated whether to allow the Confederate flag in national cemeteries one day a year.
The bill was put forth by Republicans, who actually withdrew the bill after passions against it became clear.
The bill would have allow the Confederate flag on graves one day a year, on Confederate memorial day. This day is observed on different dates throughout 10 states. It also would have allowed the emblem on items for sale in National Park Service souvenir and gift shops.
As you can imagine, emblems and graphics on headstones themselves are highly regulated by the Veterans Administration. But even so, people can choose from 62 emblems of belief that have been approved by the VA. The emblems are religious, not political.
A sampling of emblems (from top): Hammer of Thor (odinism), atheism, and the four directions (Lakota). One can also choose more common symbols of Christianity and Judaism.
What you can leave at a national cemetery grave is also highly regulated. This is from the Ft. Snelling (Minnesota) website: “Permanent plantings, statues, vigil lights, breakable objects, pinwheels, balloons, toys and stuffed animals and similar commemorative items are not permitted on the graves at any time. Unauthorized items removed from gravesites that appear to be of significant value will be held for 30 days and may be reclaimed during this time.”
Regarding flags: “Please be aware that small American flags are not considered to be floral items and will be removed from gravesites except during the period of 10 days before to 10 days after Memorial Day.”
I think the VA already does not allow the Confederate flag at gravesites and if one were left, it would be removed. Hence the Republican bill to allow them for one day a year.
What do you think? Should a Confederate flag be allowed in national cemeteries?
I think flags could be allowed on Veteran’s Day, however, who would remove the flags after the Holiday? Flags on gravesites may wind up being blown around by the wind or knocked over to just lay on the ground. I think the VA Gravesite in West Los Angeles is patriotic with or without flags.
I agree: when flags are placed in cemeteries they need to have great care. It’s sad to see them blown around or lying on the ground like trash.
Lisa Simons said:
First, I didn’t know atheism had a symbol!
Second, I think it’s a tough call. On the one hand, I do believe Confederate flags can be placed with particular owners, especially if they go with “heritage” vs. “racism.” (But what if they do believe in the racism part? I guess that’s their First Amendment right.) But then any other person walking in the cemetery may just see the latter, racism, and try to take it or destroy it. But then other regular, uncontroversial markers, flowers, etc., have been taken or destroyed in Faribault cemeteries…not sure there’s a right answer.
I think this gets at public vs. private. In this country we still value our individual freedoms, and what you place at a gravesite is pretty individual. You can see how angry people get when items at gravesites are stolen or desecrated. It’s almost a sacred space that other people shouldn’t mess with.