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Ebensburg flag flap regretful

It was disappointing that a Confederate flag — a flag whose existence is rooted in hatred, division and national upheaval — was allowed to undermine the spirit, meaning and purpose of this year’s Ebensburg Memorial Day Parade.

The flag should have been ordered from the line of parade participants before the event started — or removed once its presence otherwise became known.

Such a symbol of hatred has no place in an event meant to remember the men and women who died while serving in this country’s armed forces. In fact, it has no place in any public event.

Whatever the motivation or intention of the man who displayed the Confederate banner alongside a United States flag on his vintage farm tractor in Ebensburg’s line of march might never be fully or accurately known. However, as troubling as — or perhaps more troubling than — the Confederate flag’s parade “participation” was the reaction of most local officials when the flag issue surfaced near the end of the borough council’s June 8 meeting.

When Councilman Scot May brought up the topic of complaint letters received in the aftermath of the parade and asked whether those complaints were going to be discussed, he was met with silence.

While that silence might have been based somewhat on lack of preparedness for the discussion, it also — unfortunately and understandably — raised questions about whether underlying, troubling attitudes and beliefs exist in the minds of officials serving in elected positions in the Cambria County community.

But those Ebensburg officials, commendably, haven’t put the issue to rest. The council will hold a town hall meeting at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday in the municipal building’s community room at 300 W. High St.

The meeting deserves attendance by an overflow crowd. However, considering the ongoing coronavirus concerns, the council probably should have sought a larger venue for the meeting.

A necessary point: The parade’s flag issue is not grounded in trying to deny freedom of speech. The individual in question — or anyone — has the right to display a Confederate flag on his or her own private property.

However, no one should attempt to impose a symbol of hatred on a public event.

And the word “hatred” is indeed an accurate description. Anyone who might disagree needs to read — and look closely at the pictures contained in — the National Geographic book “Remember Little Rock,” the story of the horrific treatment accorded nine black students trying to enroll at Little Rock’s Central High School in 1957.

There is enough hatred recounted in that book of only 61 pages to encompass years of reflection.

Page 48 is particularly relevant to this and Wednesday’s discussion. It includes a picture of two Central Arkansas High white students wearing symbols of the Confederacy, one of them wearing a Confederate flag on the back of his shirt. The book’s Chapter 5 — titled “Student Warriors” — tells how “adult segregationists worked with like-minded students to organize harassment of the Little Rock Nine in school.”

That was 1957. However, the Confederate flag in 2020 remains a remnant of the hate displayed then, and what existed at the time of America’s “fracture” that spawned the Civil War.

Neither Ebensburg nor any other community should welcome any ties to that hate.

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