Display dishonored Minn. soldiers

Published 10:13 am Tuesday, July 7, 2015

On Friday I visited your city. I love community festivals and have always enjoyed the beauty of Albert Lea, so I agreed to join friends walking in a parade unit. As I approached the parade lineup at the fairgrounds I saw something I never expected to see in Minnesota. Imagine my surprise when I spotted the Hartland Fire Department fire truck flying not only our nation’s flag, but the Confederate flag. The man from the Hartland Fire Department told me he was flying the Confederate flag because “it is part of history.” “Yes,” I answered, “but it is not part of Minnesota’s history.” Pointing to our nation’s flag, I said, “Minnesotans fought and died defending that flag, and they were killed by people carrying that other flag.” He simply answered, “It is part of history.”

I gave this a great deal of thought over the day. I thought of the brave soldiers of the First Minnesota who on July 3, 1863, sacrificed so much at the battle of Gettysburg, who, the day before, courageously held the Union line against a Confederate advance making victory possible. They succeeded in capturing a Confederate battle flag that is still displayed in our state Capitol as a prize of war and as a tribute to the Minnesota soldiers who died at Gettysburg. I wonder what the families of those brave men would have thought of a Confederate flag flying in a Minnesota parade.

We can debate what the Confederate flag stands for, although for me, the answer to that question is clear. It is an emblem of racism and terror that our nation is well shed of. But there can be no debate about this: Brave Minnesotans died for our nation fighting men who carried the Confederate flag. In displaying the Confederate flag on their fire truck the Hartland Fire Department insulted their memory and dishonored the U.S. flag that the soldiers of the Minnesota First died to defend.

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Debra Hogenson