The US Government Flew a Confederate Flag at Andersonville Prison in 2022, and We Stayed Silent

If you want to know what’s wrong with America, take a hard look at Andersonville National Historic Site.

Kristle Chester

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Andersonville’s Civil War Graves on Memorial Day 2013. Public domain image from nps.gov.
Andersonville’s Civil War Graves on Memorial Day 2013. This work is in the Public Domain, CC0.

The First National Flag of the Confederacy flapped in the breeze at Andersonville National Historic Site. It was Memorial Day 2022 — twelve years after National Park Service Director’s Order 61, which bans Confederate flags from “being flown on any cemetery flagpole.” The same order restricts Confederate flags to Confederate graves and only permits them two days a year. While Memorial Day is one of these days, the National Park Service cannot pay a dime for these displays. They may not put them up either.

Despite this apparent ban, the National Park Service put up and took down the First National Flag of the Confederacy at Andersonville National Historic Site.

This is not your typical historic site where tourists tramp through a famous person’s home, tour a fort, or explore a battlefield. It’s Andersonville Prison, the site of one of the most notorious POW camps in modern history.

Also known as Camp Sumter, this infamous Confederate facility opened its gates in February 1864 and was liberated in May 1865. Approximately 13,000 of its 45,000 prisoners perished. That’s a 28.9% death rate, a higher death rate than seen at Buchenwald Concentration Camp, and Andersonville was only open for fourteen months.

Confederate POW camps, including Andersonville and Belle Isle, taught the world what war crimes look like twenty-four years before Adolf Hitler’s birth.

Photograph of former Andersonville POW Phillip Hattle of Pennsylvania taken at the Federal Hospital in Annapolis, Maryland, in June 1865. He died on June 26, 1865. Source: nps.gov
Photograph of former Andersonville POW Phillip Hattle of Pennsylvania taken at the Federal Hospital in Annapolis, Maryland, in June 1865. He died on June 26, 1865. This work is in the Public Domain, CC0.

Imagine the global outrage if the German government flew a swastika flag at the Buchenwald Memorial.

On Memorial Day 2022, the National Park Service, an agency of the US government, flew a Confederate flag at Andersonville Prison. No one said a word.

They’ll trot this flag out again for Independence Day, National POW/MIA Recognition Day, and Veterans Day. Next year, National Former POW Recognition Day…

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Kristle Chester

Freelancer. Data geek. Gardener. Baker. Spaniel lover. Georgian. MA International Commerce and Policy.