The Blood Stained Banner

As its name suggests, the blood-stained banner has been likened to a Rorschach blot: The meanings it holds vary widely depending on whom you ask. For some, the symbol represents a culture of racism and slavery; for others, it’s about honoring brave men who died for their cause. The flag, which is displayed at the U.S. Capitol, is often a source of controversy. It’s also a reminder that history is not a sports game and that war is a brutal business that affects everyone involved, including civilians.

From History to Heritage: The Blood-Stained Banner and Its Legacy”

Its use as a symbol of white supremacy has grown since the Civil War, especially after Reconstruction, when Jim Crow laws were passed, lynchings increased and the Ku Klux Klan reemerged. The symbol was popularized by the Lost Cause movement, which portrayed the antebellum South as a land of contented slaves, benevolent masters and selfless genteel women. It became the official flag of the Confederacy in 1863, and a red stripe was added to it on March 4, 1865, because many complained that a field of pure white could be mistaken for a sign of surrender from a distance.

The resulting design, commonly known as the Third National flag or the Blood Stained Banner, is considered the final Confederate flag. Today, it is displayed on the Georgia state flag. Unlike the first Confederate national flag, which featured seven stars—two on each of its left and right arms—the new design has 13 white stars that represent the states that seceded from the Union before the Civil War.

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