I rarely post about political issues in this blog. But, today, I am making an exception.
Recently, I became aware of a situation in Hot Springs, South Dakota, at a historical display at their VA Hospital. Eight flags were displayed. Two of them were Confederate flags.
Mind you, this wasn't in a former Confederate state. This was in a state that didn't join the Union until 1889, 24 years after the Civil War ended.
Hot Springs, South Dakota? I was there many years ago, when we visited Wind Cave National Park. (The cave is well worth the visit, by the way, as are the Black Hills in general. It's a beautiful area.)
But back to the story: a couple of black veterans being treated at the facility for post-traumatic stress syndrome objected to the flags. The flags were removed. Then, after the vets were released, they were replaced.
Now,they have been taken down again.
So, why do I feel so strongly about this?
My Dad was a disabled veteran of World War II. He suffered lifelong problems due to a head injury. He looked to the VA (Veterans Administration) system for health care. In fact, he died in the emergency room of a VA Hospital.
I am not writing this post to debate whether having Confederate flags on display at a VA hospital is racist or not, or whether the display of a Confederate flag anywhere but on a Civil War battlefield or historical site or a Civil War related museum, cemetery or educational exhibit is racist. I don't think this is a case of political correctness. Rather, it's a case of respect. The Confederate flag, for a portion of our population, is a symbol of suffering, hatred and/or intolerance.
It does not belong in a VA Hospital, on a state flag or in any government facility devoted to healing.
Here are some facts:
1. Many of our veterans are minorities.
2. All veterans should be thanked for their service by everyone in this nation, black and white, north and south.
3. No veteran should ever be made to feel inferior, unappreciated or uncomfortable, but especially not in a VA hospital.
4. We allegedly ended the Civil War in 1865. The key word here is "allegedly" because if you visit various websites and read various books, you will quickly realize that we are still fighting it.
The blog that alerted me to this situation is more than right about this fact that we sometimes forget:
If you want to hate those veterans for feeling the way they did, and if you want to post hateful comments in newspaper articles or even my blog, you can thank the sacrifices they and other veterans made in their service to this country for your ability to do so.