(March 26, 2018) Last month at his Dead Confederates blog, Andy Hall posted the following:
“If you follow the debates over the public display of the Confederate Battle Flag online, you’ve likely seen this image (right), purportedly showing a World War II Marine in the Pacific. Why, the argument goes, if the Confederate flag was good enough for the Greatest Generation, are you precious librul snowflakes all up in arms about it?”
(Evidently he intentionally misspelled “liberal” to imply that anyone who believes that American troops sometimes displayed the Confederate Battle flag is necessarily on the political Right, and a dimwit.)
Next Hall correctly explains that the image was probably altered with digital photo editing software like Adobe’s PhotoShop. It appears that the Confederate flag in the above image was inserted into a June 1, 1945 photo of a Marine placing the Stars-and-Stripes on a conquered Japanese defensive position at Okinawa. Hall finally concludes, “I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating: if you have to make up phony evidence to support your “heritage,” it’s not worth saving.”
Nick Sacco re-posted Hall’s analysis at his “Exploring the Past” blog and commented, “It might help [the photo corrupter] to take a training session on using photoshop (sic.) before attempting to make lame ‘heritage’ memes. Great work from Andy Hall.” Sacco is a Ranger at the Ulysses Grant National Historic Site in St. Louis and thereby an employee of the Federal Government. As he explains in this Journal of the Civil War Era article he sees no reason why items displaying the Confederate flag should be sold in Civil War museum gifts shops.
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Nonetheless, anyone seeking the truth can find significant evidence that American soldiers sometimes displayed the Confederate Battle flag while in uniform and in battlefield areas. Here are nine such photos. Perhaps one reason the flag was shown is that even today forty percent of American military recruits are Southerners whereas only fifteen percent are from the Northeast.
Evidently without the benefit of Hall’s certainty that the “phony evidence” of a Confederate Battle flag at Okinawa implies the “heritage” of such heroics “is not worth saving,” Sean Michael Chick independently reflected on the matter at his Ongoing Civil War blog. Chick had been reading Eugene Sledge’s With the Old Breed, which was a source for Ken Burns’ PBS series on World War II titled, The War. Sledge, who was among the Marines fighting the Japanese at Okinawa, wrote:
Earlier in the morning [of May 29, 1945] . . . Marines had attacked eastward into the ruins of Shuri Castle and had raised the Confederate flag. When we learned that the flag of the Confederacy had been hoisted over the very heart and soul of Japanese resistance, all of us Southerners cheered loudly. The Yankees among us grumbled . . .
The date is important because Hall admits that the photo he identifies as digitally altered was taken three days later on June 1, 1945. Moreover, according to Professor Greg Grandin of New York University, “In World War II . . . the first flag Marines raised upon taking the [Okinawa] headquarters of the Japanese Imperial Army was the Confederate one. It had been carried into battle in the helmet of a captain from South Carolina.”