I have struggled the with the flag issue for several years. I'm proud to be a southerner and admire many of our most legendary characters. I'm humbled by the courage and fortitude of my ancestors, who braved the journey from Great Britain to face the unknown, tame the wilderness and help build a nation. I understand why for many white southerners the Confederate Battle Flag is a symbol of their pride in that heritage and tradition, which predates the Civil War.
On the other side, what might the same flag symbolize to the millions of southerners who are black? I doubt many would say the right to self-determination or economic freedom. In my experience, the more likely answer is that the battle flag legitimizes a confederacy that waged war in part to perpetuate the bondage of their forebears; in the 150 years since the war's end, the flag has been adopted as the ensign of racial supremacists, evoking painful, explicit memories for generations Americans, both black and white.
For these reasons we cannot justify flying this flag over or on the grounds of any seat of government.
I'm not suggesting that we should pretend chapters of our history didn't happen or that people should not commemorate their Confederate ancestry - in fact, the opposite; there is middle ground that does not disrespect anyone's heritage: The flag should be reserved to museums, battlefields, living history reenactments, cemeteries, and of course, private property - all places where its presence is appropriate.
Some may criticize my position as caving to political correctness or succumbing to "white guilt." That is their right as Americans.
From our beginning as a country, we have dared nobly and achieved greatly. We have also fallen short of our ideals - many times. Part of our greatness as a people is that we are still striving to form A More Perfect Union - our national charge proclaimed nearly 230 years ago in our constitution. Let's not allow a symbol of division from another era continue to divide us today.
Rockdale County resident