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November 13, 2013

The Confederate flag blues

The sun was low in the sky. It was a typical August morning in the Adirondacks.

My sister, Susan, was visiting from Poughkeepsie, hanging out with her older brother for a few days.

Suddenly, a pickup truck drove into my front yard, a large Confederate flag waving from the rear of the truck bed. My sister was frightened and shouted something.

I looked up, saw the flag and searched for my telephone to call the police. Frankly, I was scared, and I am too old to fight and too slow to run.

The young driver got out, walked to my porch and collected my garbage bags. It turned out that he worked for the person who picks up my trash.

The excitement was all over in a matter of seconds, but the fast heartbeats lingered on.

Needless to say, I don’t like Confederate flags. They carry the stink of slavery, that most inhuman of human achievement. It was the battle flag of the defeated enemies of our cherished Union. “It’s the flag of the traitors,” says my friend Mitch.

And displaying one anywhere on my property is like flying a swastika flag near the home of a Jewish American.

More importantly, I was scared. I felt invaded in those few seconds that it took to be over.

I wasn’t until much later, when I had time to think about it, that I realized that Confederate flags probably don’t mean diddly-squat to the youth of today. They haven’t seen them on television displayed by an angry mob of Ku Klux Klanners bent on the destruction of anybody with brown skin. Nor have they likely seen photos of a Southern lynching party, a black body swinging from a rope not far from that battle flag.

Those and similar images are indelibly burned into my consciousness. Get over them? Perhaps. Forget them? Never.

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