Last year’s massacre at Emanuel A.M.E. Church in Charleston, South Carolina, launched a mass effort to rid the country of Confederate symbols. Local governments voted to remove rebel banners from Southern cities, including Charleston, and people pushed to remove war memorials in towns from Louisville to New Orleans. Now, if California Congressman Jared Huffman’s bill becomes law, the Confederate battle flag could soon be largely barred from some military cemeteries, too.
It would prohibit large versions of the flag—such as those flown from flagpoles and over mass graves, Politico and The Hill report—from being displayed at national cemeteries operated by the Department of Veterans Affairs. Smaller versions would still be allowed at individual gravesites on two days, Confederate Memorial Day and Memorial Day. And some resting places, like state-owned veterans cemeteries, are exempt. The House passed the amendment Thursday with the support of GOP House leadership, including Speaker Paul Ryan, although roughly 160 Republicans and one Democrat voted against the amendment.
Huffman argued his case in a speech late Wednesday night. “Why in the year 2016 are we still condoning displays of this hateful symbol on our sacred national cemeteries? Symbols like the Confederate battle flag have meaning. They are not just neutral historical symbols of pride. They represent slavery, oppression, lynching, and hate,” the Democratic congressman said. “To continue to allow national policy condoning the display of this symbol on federal property is wrong, and it’s disrespectful to what our country stands for and what our veterans fight for.”