At least two days a week The Virginia Flaggers can be seen in front of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts parading Confederate flags while they are ignored by passerbys. The Virginia Flaggers have been attempting to preserve Confederate history by “flagging” locations which they believe have “attacked (their) flags, heritage, and ancestors.” The most frequently protested place by this group is the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts because it took down Confederate flags from the Confederate memorial chapel that is on its property.
This removal enraged enough people to initially create the Flaggers, which now has about 40 committed members and more than 4,000 “likes” on Facebook. They have been flagging the museum for almost three years.
When asked about the VMFA’s reaction to these flaggings, Chief Communications Officer Susan Hall said that the institution still stands by their official statement from 2011 which states that the original chapel did not have flags hanging from it therefore the current ones were removed in, “an effort that returned the historic structure to its original appearance.” The Flaggers’ foundation for their organization is already a fallacy because they say they want to preserve their heritage but then go about wanting this chapel to be historically inaccurate.
The Flaggers have also jump-started the Interstate Memorial Flag Project, which entails the organization finding property off of the interstate that was close to a Civil War battle site and placing Confederate battle flags on them. These flags are erected “to the memory and honor of the Confederate Soldiers who sacrificed, bled, and died to defend Virginia from invasion” and are an unnecessarily large 30 feet by 22 feet and hang from 90-foot-long poles. There are currently three flags with one each in Richmond, Fredericksburg and Cold Harbor. There have been attempts to take these flags down, but they are on private property and violate no laws. It is not obvious from the interstate that these flags are memorials of any sort. The only purpose these flags are serving is to agitate people. Almost no one who drives by is going to think of these flags as anything other than an ignorant and offensive gesture.
Among the most ludicrous things the Flaggers have requested is that the entire town of Lexington, Virginia be boycotted due to the removal of flags from a Robert E. Lee Memorial there. They also have had rallies in West Virginia, which literally exists because it wanted to be a part of the Union. The flaggers speak of the Confederacy in present tense. It seems as if they are not trying to preserve history but revert Virginia to the Confederacy. The Flaggers also claim that “The Confederacy was the American Empire’s first conquest,” — which is ridiculous when you consider the treatment of Native Americans well before the Civil War.
There is a line between historical preseveration and the over-glorification of this flag and the Virginia Flaggers have crossed it. When it boils down to it, the Confederacy existed to uphold the institution of slavery and it failed. The Confederacy divided the nation and now could be used to divide our community if enough people paid attention to The Flaggers. This flag only existed for the last two years of the Civil War and was never an official flag of the Confederacy.
With so many hypocritical acts like trying to make buildings historically inaccurate and promoting the Confederacy in a state that was a part of the Union, The Virginia Flaggers cannot truly claim their goal is to preserve Virginia’s history when they are actually preventing it from progressing forward.