Commander's Column: Liberty-loving Ukrainians Like Our Flag
As I mentioned in my address at our Dragoons Confederate Memorial Day program in April, some of the current events in the Ukraine mirror those of the Confederate States in the 1860s. The Ukranian nationalists rejected the President who was supported by Russian President Putin and overthrew him in an effort to strengthen ties with the European Union. For much the same reasons as Lincoln had done 150 years prior when invading and blockading the South, Putin wanted the ports of the Ukranian Crimean region and the gas resources and pipelines under Russian economic control so he sent troops to seize and occupy this area. Chris Zapone of TheAge.com reported on August 1st, “Outside the US, the flag has in recent years been taken up by … secessionists and people who identify as strongly anti-authority. Images from December 2013 … show a Confederate flag … hanging from inside Kiev City Hall - put there by Ukrainian nationalists protesting against the government of then President Viktor Yanukovych, who fled to Russia in February of this year.”
Now, the Russian-backed rebels in eastern Ukraine have adopted a flag almost identical to the Confederate Battle Flag with its St. Andrews cross. Zapone further reports, “Observers have noted the similarities between the flag of Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine and the Confederate battle flag flown in the US Civil War. Unofficially, the red and blue pennant seen in Ukraine represents the "Federal State of Novorossiya", or New Russia, the name for the disputed part of Ukraine in Tsarist times. Today the flag is found in the eastern Ukrainian cities of Donetsk and Luhansk, both separatist strongholds. It was the winner of a Facebook vote in May asking Novorossiya to select one of 11 possible flags. “The flag of the unofficial Federal State of Novorossiya has been used by Russian right-wing groups before,” said Deakin University research fellow Dr. Filip Slaveski. It was also seen during the ‘Donetsk Republic’ movement in 2005 which was at the forefront of Russian nationalist protests against the 2004 Orange Revolution in Ukraine, he added. But Confederate flags have been in circulation among both Russian and Ukrainian nationalists for some time. “At various Russian right-wing protests, other flags have been used, such as the original Confederate flag, and the flag of Texas, mostly to indicate that the supporters are anti-state and nationalist,” said Dr Slaveski. This flag is identical to the Confederate Battle Flag excepting the stars on the blue bars.
Unbelievably though, another news story reported that blacks in the US were upset that this flag was being adopted by Ukranian nationalists and subsequently the Novorossiya rebels, claiming racism. What a sterling example of ignorance and narcissism. Despite what should be a vested interest in American history, these people exhibit intolerance and prejudice believing any display of the Battle Flag is irrefutably all about their limited experience. While these Ukranians are adopting the flag to demonstrate their belief in their cause of liberty, we as Sons of Confederate Veterans know our forefathers embraced their beloved flag for the same concept, a struggle against a tyrannical, oppressive federal authority, and for liberty in the defense of their homes and family. We as SCV members hold the Battle Flag dear as a symbol of our Southern history. Nonetheless, Fox News carried an article online over the weekend giving support to the politically-correct intolerance directed toward Confederate heritage, airing the NAACP's objection to the Virginia Flaggers new I-95 Battle Flag, citing their opinion that the flag is exclusively symbolic of the story of plantation slavery in the Confederate states. It is this self-absorbed ignorance that the Sons of Confederate Veterans struggles to overcome.
It is only through a continued dedication to the defense and advancement of our message of heritage in every community and educating our children that we can hope that our heroic ancestors' bravery and sacrifices are understood and appreciated, respected and honored. It was reported that we had a low turnout for the second Indian Hills Cemetery cleanup and restoration. Many of us may have had other commitments but strong camp participation in this sort of events and projects exemplifies the guardianship of the Confederate veteran's history and the ideals we cherish--as the Charge implores. As there were hundreds of thousands of Confederate veterans, there are millions of their descendants who are heirs to this unique and noble Southern heritage and yet there number just thirty thousand SCV members. This apathy endangers the continued preservation of our Confederate history and heritage. So while we may at times be frustrated that it seems that we have but a few reliably, actively participating in camp activities, we need to appreciate every member’s contribution including past service as well as in dues and donations. At the same time, though, we need to offer every opportunity for everyone to get involved and further the Cause in new and different ways. I want to thank every Dragoon who responded to our annual Dixie Butt fundraiser. I want to implore every Dragoon to renew his membership as that time approaches. But I want to encourage all Dragoons to attend our camp meetings and other events, to get involved and make the most of your opportunity as a Son of a Confederate Veteran to carry forth the Charge and advance the Cause.