While South Carolina considers its next move against symbols of the Confederacy, Alabama has already battled over the battle flag.
The Confederate Battle Flag or Naval Flag flew over the Alabama Capitol for almost 30 years after Gov. George Wallace ordered it there in 1963 to defy federal efforts to desegregate the South. A court ruling ordered its removal.
The mid-1990’s also saw the City of Mobile move from the Rebel flag on its six-flag logo to the Third Flag National of the Confederacy. That flag features the “Southern Cross” in the upper left and a red vertical bar on the right edge.
Around Mobile you’ll still see some older historic home markers with the rebel flag. The newer markers though incorporate the Third National Flag of the Confederacy. That’s the flag that now flies at Government Plaza and the one that most Civil War historians believe is the most appropriate.
“I think that was a smart move, a wise move because the battle flag really didn’t represent the nation of the Confederacy,” said Davis Smithweck, a member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans. “It was carried into battle.”
David Smithweck attends regular memorial services at the Confederate Rest at Magnolia Cemetery, one of the last places in town where you can see the Battle Flag flying in Mobile. He says its use by the Ku Klux Klan forever changed the image of the Confederate Battle Flag.
“I think that had the biggest part of alienating people, to see this particular hate group take these flags and march around with them,” said Smithweck.
Alabama is one of nine states that sell a Sons of Confederate Veterans license plate – one of the last governmental endorsements of the rebel flag. Texas refused to offer the plate and last week the U.S. Supreme Court ruled it did not have to offer one.
Interestingly, Alabama’s state flag has its roots in the Confederacy.
The crimson Cross of St. Andrew was adopted in 1895. As then State Attorney General Don Siegelman detailed in a 1987 letter to the National Archives, the state flag was “modeled after the 60th Alabama Infantry Regiment’s battle flag.”