The much-anticipated Appomattox branch of the Museum of the Confederacy is opening soon, and this occasion offers all of us an opportunity for substantial and sober reflection about a host of important topics, such as the challenge of interpreting complex and emotionally charged subjects through exhibits, the proper stewardship of collections at a multi-facility institution, the place of military history in public history as a whole, and the relationship between scholarship and popular memory.
So naturally, instead of considering any of these issues, we’re going to get up in arms over what sort of flags they’re flying in front of the building.
Appomattox, VA – A new battle is brewing around the Museum of The Confederacy in Appomattox. Southern Heritage groups are calling on people to boycott the museum because the Confederate Flag will not fly outside.
All of this is surrounding 15 flag poles outside of the building, called the Reunification Promenade.
It will display state flags in order of their secession leading up to the U.S. flag.
Virginia Flaggers says they’ve offered to pay to add the Confederate Flag to the display, but the museum isn’t interested.
The museum’s president notes that the outdoor flag display is actually intended to illustrate the relationship of the seceded states to the rest of the country, which accounts for the Confederate flag’s otherwise conspicuous absence. Furthermore, the museum will include the biggest exhibit of Confederate flags anywhere in the history of mankind, which suggests that keeping said flag under wraps isn’t exactly a priority for the MOC. But this isn’t enough to assuage the concern of people who are evidently more concerned about the museum’s front porch than they are about the actual content of the exhibits.
If questions about outdoor vexillology aren’t enough to convince you that nefarious anti-Southron forces are at work here, then consider the assertion that the facility’s location is, and I quote, “evidence that Yankee interests have invested the museum.”
Is the first opening in the lovely Shenandoah where Jackson beat three Union armies in one campaign? No. Oh I know, it’s off Interstate 95 at Chancellorsville, the site of Lee’s greatest victory! NO. OK, maybe up closer to Washington, D.C. on the Manassas battlefield where the Confederacy won two major battles? Nope. So where?
Appomattox, the place where General Lee surrendered the Army of Northern Virginia. You are kidding! For a Southerner, only Andersonville could be a worse location!
And bear in mind that while these folks are complaining about encroaching Yankeefication at the MOC, another critic is denouncing the institution as a Confederate shrine.
Make up your minds, guys. If I’m supposed to go with a knee-jerk reaction, at least let me know which direction.