Pamela Cooper-White

Cooper-White

While browsing the antiques fair in Gettysburg Square earlier this month, and participating in the peaceful Black Lives Matter demonstration the next day, I noticed – as always – a symbol that can be seen all around town: two flags, crossed, presented as equals, the American flag and the Confederate battle flag.

Many years ago, when my husband and I were still fairly new to the Gettysburg community, an African American colleague came here for a year to teach. This colleague pointed out that what had simply looked like Civil War memorabilia to us at the time stood out to her in a very different way. “Have you noticed how many Confederate flags there are in this town?” the colleague asked. “Do you think that makes me feel welcome here?” Looking more closely at the signage in our town, we started noticing all the public places the flag appeared. Equally ubiquitous is the two-flag symbol of “the Blue and the Gray.” This two-flag symbol adorns everything from coffee mugs to storefronts here. You can order a hamburger in one establishment with either a Confederate or American (“Union”) flag stuck in it, according to your preference.

Pamela Cooper-White is an ordained Episcopal priest, and Dean and Professor of Psychology and Religion at Union Theological Seminary in New York. She lives with her husband Michael Cooper-White in Orrtanna.

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