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In Statement, OCHC Regards Confederate Flag As Symbol Of Racism And Treason

Edwin Shelton
Flickr.com/Public Domain

A state commission is advising against displaying Confederate flags in historic Oregon cemeteries.

In a statement called aposition paper, the Oregon Commission on Historic Cemeteries says Memorial Day was established three years after the Civil War to honor Union Soldiers who died defending the United States of America.  The paper adds the Confederate Flag is a symbol of treason, suppression, racism, and dishonor.

Photo provided by Larry Cebula
A grave stone for Thomas Steele, a Confederate soldier buried in Prairie City, Oregon.

Across the country, the flag and other symbols of the Confederacy are being revisited in recent weeks as protests by the Black Lives Matter movement have  followed George Floyd's death in Minneapolis.  NASCARand the State of Missisippi have officially removed the Confederate emblem.   

Kuri Gill of the state historic preservation agency, Oregon Heritage, toldk KLCC focus on this topic had been building since last fall.

“We had discussion about the value and significance of historic cemeteries and how critical it is that all people feel safe in accessing that value," she said. 

"So we listened to personal stories of people and their experience with the Confederate flag, their experience with finding their ancestors in historic cemeteries.”

There aren't many Confederate graves in Oregon, compared to states in the Deep South.  But some do appearhere and there.  The East Oregonian newspaper reports about 60 in two dozen Oregon cemeteries.

In its draft position paper, the OCHC says families should use either flowers or the U.S. flag on Confederate graves. The commission’s stance is only advisory.

Copyright 2020, KLCC.

Brian Bull is an assistant professor of journalism at the University of Oregon, and remains a contributor to the KLCC news department. He began working with KLCC in June 2016.   In his 27+ years as a public media journalist, he's worked at NPR, Twin Cities Public Television, South Dakota Public Broadcasting, Wisconsin Public Radio, and ideastream in Cleveland. His reporting has netted dozens of accolades, including four national Edward R. Murrow Awards (22 regional),  the Ohio Associated Press' Best Reporter Award, Best Radio Reporter from  the Native American Journalists Association, and the PRNDI/NEFE Award for Excellence in Consumer Finance Reporting.
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