A Confederate flag in a historical display at the Veterans Affairs medical center in Hot Springs has been removed following complaints from several veterans there for treatment.

Steve DiStasio, director of the VA Black Hills Health Care System, said Wednesday he plans to meet with the veterans next week as he and other officials decide what to do with the flag.

"Some veterans want the flag removed," he said Wednesday. "What we realize here is that there are people who have strong opinions on both sides of issues."

The Journal received a call Wednesday from a man who said he was concerned about the flag's removal. When contacted, DiStasio said the full-size Confederate flag was part of a Shrine to Democracy display in the three-story domed rotunda of the VA medical center in Hot Springs.

The flag has been part of the display for decades, he said.

But several veterans who are in the Hot Springs center for treatment came to VA officials on Tuesday demanding the flag be taken down. DiStasio said he understands the flag is offensive to some, despite its historical significance.

DiStasio thought the flag was still up Wednesday morning. But VA public information officer Jill Broecher said later that it had been taken down, at least for now.

DiStasio said he is now considering his next step.

"I don't know what's going to happen. This evolved very quickly yesterday afternoon," he said. "I've asked some of our folks to get some research on what is the position on flags and other memorabilia that are part of historical presentations."

Along with the full-size flag, there is another display with a smaller Confederate flag, DiStasio said. That, too, was removed for now and will be part of the discussion on appropriateness.

"I don't have a hard time frame for making a decision," he said. "We're talking with our staff about short-term, long-term actions. I think it will take a little bit to work through that."

Contact Kevin Woster at 394-8413 or kevin.woster@rapidcityjournal.com

(58) comments

Deklan
Deklan

fretwalker
I'm putting this at the top of the forum... You were correct on history, heritage, and honor.

An online media (TV station) has a piece regarding the VA will rehang the two confederate flags which were taken down.

In part, it notes, the VA will rehang the two confederate flags which were taken down.

The historic Freedom Shrine in the rotunda of the Hot Springs VA Medical Center is a reflection of those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for America. The two Confederate flags are part of an eight-flag hanging display. VA Black Hills Health Care System considers it an honor to celebrate and recognize the sacrifices of all Veterans through this Freedom Shrine, which has been hanging in our Rotunda since 1995.

Black Hawk
Black Hawk

Does the Confederate flag really represent freedom? What part of slavery is the free part? This flag is still used to represent racism. Just because it's been there since 1995 does not make it right. Place it in a display case but don't fly is beside Old Glory.

Deklan
Deklan

The post was directed to fretwalker.

As the cut and paste noted, the VA Black Hills Health Care System considers it an honor to celebrate and recognize the sacrifices of all Veterans through this Freedom Shrine. Key word is "all."

Cleburne123
Cleburne123

Well, seeing as how the US allowed slavery from before its inception to shortly after the war and a US Supreme Court ( on which only one Southern Justice sat) okayed the practice of Jim Crow, then tell me, how exactly Old Glory stands for freedom? kinda hypocrtical.....

morningstar
morningstar

I doubt if there are many Civil War Veterans making use of the VA Medial Facility these days; Why was it there in the first place?

HAHAURALLWRONG
HAHAURALLWRONG

I was in SC during the time when they wanted to take it down from the Capitol building and I saw many black people out there fighting to keep it flying because they had FAMILY members who fought for that flag and that army. So to say that its a bad flag is WRONG! lets look at it this way.... we should ban all spoons and forks because they are helping fat people eat..

Black Hawk
Black Hawk

Of the Union troops, 180,000 were black and 20.5% of them died vs. 8.6% for white troops. In the 1890 census 3,273 Blacks claimed to be Confederate Veterans. The South rejected almost all ideas of arming Negros. One idea that was floated included the promise that the slaves would be freed after the war was over. Now, it's your contention that Black people were in SC to rally around a flag that represents slavery because their FAMILY members fought for the flag is incredible and untrue. Slaves fighting in order to become free is different than free Blacks people fighting to end slavery. You can take all the spoons and forks you want but that flag still represents slavery and always will. To honor a flag that represents a war which killed over 600,000 Americans makes me wonder if the war will ever be over.

Cleburne123
Cleburne123

you are being intellectually dishonest....

morningstar
morningstar

That sounds a little bit like the Southern theory that black people were better off as slaves than being free.

snowflake
snowflake

How about the Journal writing an article about how Sen. Johnson stood up to Sec. Sinsecki yesterday in the hearings, on national TV, concerning the fact that within the appropriations bill was a large expenditure for a lease/constrution of a new VA center in Rapid. Sinsecki said it was mistakenly put into the bill and it would come out. Please, Journal, this should be a headline! Google it if you need to or go to Save the VA on Facebook, but cover this huge story!

Hot Springs Mom
Hot Springs Mom

This photo isn't even of the Hot Springs VA!!!!!

Concerned in Colorado
Concerned in Colorado

I would like to shed a bit more light on this situation. I don't believe that the confederate flag has a place in the VA Hospital or any other military or government facility. I do believe that everyone has the right to display their own form of personal patriotism in the confines of their own residence. However, as having a bit more knowledge about this particular incident. The only flags that were displayed was a US flag that had a confederate flag on either side, at the facility. There was not a South Dakota state flag nor a POW flag or respective flags that represented the various branches of service; which would be more appropriate that honors veterans. This flag sent a non verbal message to all that came in contact with it So if you are going to pay homage to those who gave their lives why wouldn't all of the branches of service flags be displayed along with the POW flags? Let's not kid ourselves and chalk it up to over sensitive veterans they have the right to be honored and respected, our constitution states that we are to protect against enemies for FORGIEN AND DOMESTIC and the confederate flag fell into that category whether we like it or not

Cleburne123
Cleburne123

Would you have a picture of the display as it was before political correctness and emotional distress caused the flag's removal? Sent a non-verbal message? really. And what would that message be? If you say hatred or racism, tell us please when did the VA decide it wanted to send such a nasty message to visitors and felt that the batle flag was an appropriate way to do so. The South was an enewmy to the US during the war, but afterward, the US recognized the Southern soldier as an American Veteran. Is it really appropriate to hold the soldier in such high esteem and denigrate the banner under which he fought and died. I don't think so. Based on your point of view, you are going to go around to every historical flag display that has, say, the English flag flying and call for its removal? They were in fact a foreign enemy.....

Posey
Posey

--" I do believe that everyone has the right to display their own form of personal patriotism in the confines of their own residence."----Well thank you sir---Can you tell us what the limitations are on that? Do your rules include what we may display outside "confines of their own residence"? I wouldn't want to have to remove something because you are offended............Sir, do you have a personalized copy of the constitution that says you and vets shall not be offended?

Concerned in Colorado
Concerned in Colorado

The way you manage your household is at your discretion, however, imposing your ideologies on a federal facility in the form of a confederate "battle" flag is not the place. It amazes me that those who try to stand behind the confederate "battle" flag go every route except down the avenue of truth. Just say it.....the only reason that there was a civil war is because human bondage is the way southerners filled their economic pockets and they didn't want those with more political savvy to change that way of life. When blacks fought it was with the promise of freedom

Posey
Posey

"imposing your ideologies"?? ---Would you have a display about WW11 without the swastika or rising sun? Maybe you would,( "imposing your ideologies"??) but rational people with a respect for history wouldn't-----What are you afraid of?

----..Sir, do you have a personalized copy of the constitution that says you shall not be offended?

no-brainer
no-brainer


"time to make a decision"??? I can't imagine that that a moment isn't enough to think about it. Totally imappropriate to fly a confederate flag anywhere - especially in a federal building. It stands for slavery - period . DiStansio has been a public relations disaster for the VA.

Cleburne123
Cleburne123

slavery period, eh? Wow. Indoctrinated much? Confederate veterans are considered American Veterans by law in this country. That flag represents much more than slavery.

sprovorse
sprovorse

One word to Steve DiStasio (COWARD)

trustno1
trustno1

If the VA moves to make a decision on this issue as expeditiously as it does in adjudicating claims, expect an answer in about three years.

Dogwoman
Dogwoman

All these comments talking about "political correctness" and "whining". You say nothing about the fight to free the slaves. As if freedom for all people is only for whiners and politically correct folks. As if we are supposed to forget it was about slavery because that word is too politically unsavory. As if we are supposed to forget what the US government fought against and why. I am the only one that has used the word except for Black Hawk (so far). If you talk about the confederacy and the flag- to be honest you have to talk about slavery. Stop trying to sugar-coat it.

Deklan
Deklan

The Civil war was not about necessarily only about slavery, it was a war to preserve the Union.

Before Lincoln was president, the states of South Carolina, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, and Texas had seceded, due in part to slavery, the economy, and states’ rights. Virginia, Arkansas, North Carolina, and Tennessee seceded after Fort Sumter.

Lincoln’s first inaugural address noted: Apprehension seems to exist among the people of the Southern States that by the accession of a Republican Administration their property and their peace and personal security are to be endangered. There has never been any reasonable cause for such apprehension. Indeed, the most ample evidence to the contrary has all the while existed and been open to their inspection. It is found in nearly all the published speeches of him who now addresses you. I do but quote from one of those speeches when I declare that I have no purpose, directly or indirectly, to interfere with the institution of slavery in the States where it exists. I believe I have no lawful right to do so, and I have no inclination to do so.

In a letter to Horace Greeley, he wrote, “I would save the Union. I would save it the shortest way under the Constitution. The sooner the national authority can be restored; the nearer the Union will be "the Union as it was." If there be those who would not save the Union, unless they could at the same time save slavery, I do not agree with them. If there be those who would not save the Union unless they could at the same time destroy slavery, I do not agree with them. My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or to destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that. What I do about slavery, and the colored race, I do because I believe it helps to save the Union; and what I forbear, I forbear because I do not believe it would help to save the Union. I shall do less whenever I shall believe what I am doing hurts the cause, and I shall do more whenever I shall believe doing more will help the cause. I shall try to correct errors when shown to be errors; and I shall adopt new views so fast as they shall appear to be true views.”

The Emancipation Proclamation only applied to states that had seceded from the Union, leaving the evil of slavery untouched in the other slave states.

Full emancipation came from state actions and the ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment.

I suggest you read some of the Lincoln Douglas debates to understand Lincoln.

Posey
Posey

Talk about anything you want, but it doesn't change the fact that it's a big part of American history, and it's a big part of a lot of a lot of Americans heritage.I remember my grandfather having the rifle his grandfather used for the confederacy..... The politics that forced those men to fight were wrong, but they were my people. Americans dying on American soil...... Too bad these guys aren't demanding to know why thousands of Americans were killed and maimed in Iraq.

Concerned in Colorado
Concerned in Colorado

We don't live nor did we serve the Iraqi government, however we did and still do live here however it came to be, and we have service this government without waiver and with honor in spite of all of the oppression and degrading comments, lynch mobs, going to war abroad and then being given more respect by those we were fighting against to come back and still endure to this day a flag that represented oppression for our people, we are demanding you respect that we did just as much under more dire circumstances imposed by confederate represented militia and their kinfolk

snowflake
snowflake

What about the American Indians who held slaves?

Concerned in Colorado
Concerned in Colorado

They just made North Carolina remove It from the old state capital building on 03./2013. I am floored at the sugar coating that is put on for the confederate flag to remain.

Posey
Posey

What else are you offended by that "they" should remove?

Frank Smith
Frank Smith

I'm less concerned about the specifics as I am how quickly certain people jump to attention and willingly respond the second anyone complains about anything. I feel we have become a nation of feel-good weaklings. I guess I don't feel it, I know it. It seems nothing is worth fighting for anymore, lest somebody becomes offended.

West River
West River

Look who is complaining about certain people always responding the second anyone complains about anything.
My guess is that you Frank get the vast majority of your comments posted.

Some of us are lucky to get one in five attempts to straighten your comments out.

Frank Smith
Frank Smith

LOL!

pashiery
pashiery

First of all, what is being called the "confederate flag" is NOT the confederate flag, it is the "battle flag" of Northern Virginia. The original message of this flag design was " Cross Us Out Of Your Union". The southern states had withdrew from the union, which led to the civil war. In the mid-twentieth century, this battle flag became ubiquitalous in American Culture through the efforts of the KKK, becoming increasingly tied to racial violence and intimidation.
In response to the person stating that if this flag is remove then the sweat lodge needs to be removed, you are now comparing a spiritual way of life with a banner representing a time period in American History, which is ridiculous. If this discussion had been about removing "christianity" or another religous practice, then I would understand how the sweat lodge would be included in the conversation. The essence of the sweat lodge are the spiritual, social, physical and phychological healing attributted to the lodge.
Personally, my thoughts, as a Gulf War Veteran is; that this flag deserves its place in a history museum and not flying next to the American Flag at a South Dakota Veteran's Hospital. A state which is not a southern or "confederate" state.

Cleburne123
Cleburne123

LOL, that is a first, "cross us out of your union?" Try St. Andrew's Cross.

Cleburne123
Cleburne123

Duh, an historical flag display is quite similar to being something like one would see in a museum. Quit being so knit-picky!

Ramrod
Ramrod

I'm offended by those who are offended by their interpretation of history. Please remove them from the VA immediately. Whatever I did, served, suffered, represented or how I was taught to offend me is how this country and its public facilities should display signs, flags, etc. Come on, it's the modern way...get with the times you racist, sexist, insensitive people.

GL
GL

Cleburne, as a Vietnam Vet I am discussed with the idea that anyone would fly the Confederate flag. The Confederates were trying to ruin our democracy. My friends, who died in the Vietnam war, were not fighting for that flag...it doesn't deserve to fly next to the US flag, it belongs in a museum, period.

Posey
Posey

#1 read the article---#2 read the comment from Cleburne123 - 3 hours ago

snowflake
snowflake

The flag WAS in a museum display!

Cleburne123
Cleburne123

Ruin our democracy? Like the one we have crumbling right now? Tell me again how the South wasn't fight for State Sovereignty against an intrusive federal government. remember, the union was one that was voluntarily entered into by the states and leaving it was somehow wrong? According to who, Lincoln? LOL, tried to ruin our democracy indeed.

Thanks fret and snow...

Cleburne123
Cleburne123

Funny "Appelton's wife", but I can pick out some pretty disgusting attitudes about this Country's past that are represented by Old Glory, but i don't see anyone whining about that. It's history and I am appalled that veterans would be complaining about a flag that represents the valor and sacrifice of the Confederate Veteran. Funny, but this country considers Confederate Veterans as American Vets just as any other vet of this country! Confederate vets are entitled to the same rights, privileges and recogniton, including headstones issued by the VA denoting their Confederate service. CS vets are interred in Arlington with a huge monument in their honor that preisdents, including Obama, have either laid or had wreaths presented on Memorial Days past! For God's sake, this country is becoming a politically correct shadow of its former great self with all this historical cleansing nonsense because of cry babies. As we move into the future like this, I see a day where those same whining veterans and any memorials to them will be scorned and denigrated by a society who also think that what they may have done in the past is no longer worthy of remembrance. As a veteran, i am disgusted by this, but see that day coming. Just wait.

Dogwoman
Dogwoman

The Confederate flag is a symbol of a culture that thought it was ok to enslave human beings, and to use slavery to prop up their economy. They thought it was their God-given right to use slaves to make themselves rich. They also thought they had the right to spread their ideas of slavery across the entire country. That offends me. It should offend everyone. The Star Spangled Banner is the flag that waves for all American veterans, including the southern ones, NOT the flag of the confederacy. The North won. Slavery was abolished. That means something. I have to assume that people who are proud of the confederacy either think it is ok to enslave people; or they do not know the history.

snowflake
snowflake

You forgot to mention that American Indians had slaves.

Posey
Posey

With all due respect to vets,how many through the years have served, or fought or died defending the right of these guys NOT to be offended?--Zero...Folks offended by a display of American history deserve no attention.That flag is one symbol of the bloodiest war in our history, should we pretend there was only one side in that American war? The guys dying under that were Americans, and as in most wars were victims of politics nearly 150 years ago..... This is beyond silly, get over it or be sooo offended, but you don't get to cherry pick what is or is not the history of the country.

Cleburne123
Cleburne123

How 'bout all the Army vets out there...what post did you call home during your tour? Was is Ft. Lee? Was it Ft. Gordon......Ft Bragg, Ft Polk, Ft AP Hill, Camp Beauraegard???? These, among others, were named after CONFEDERATE Generals.......Tell me again how inappropropriate it is to display a Confederate flag at a VA hospital.....please.

Concerned in Colorado
Concerned in Colorado

I don't care if they were named Fort Umbutoo, the fact is......the flag is down, you want history, go to the museum, but you won't see it in the VA hospital....how about those apples

Cleburne123
Cleburne123

I want AMERICAN VETERANS and the flags they flew under allowed to be displayed in historical flag displays in VA Hospitals without interference from people who would rather be politically correct than historically accurate. How bout those apples......indeed.

snowflake
snowflake

Sure you see KKK stuff on display. Ft. Meade Museum and SD State Historical Society Museum to name just two. They may not be "proudly" displayed, but they are displayed because it is part of our history.

GL
GL

I can see it at a museum, but, flying???you've got to be kidding me!!

Cleburne123
Cleburne123

So you mean if it is on a pole in an historical display, there is something wrong with that? Good grief.

GL
GL

Yes

Cleburne123
Cleburne123

Again, good grief. That is absolutely absurd.

Frank Smith
Frank Smith

All it takes these days is a few complaints from anyone about anything to effect a change, whether it makes sense or not. One thing is for certain, America will never have a shortage of offended politically correct people.

Cleburne123
Cleburne123

Bongo! Apparently these folks would rather be politically correct than historical accurate. What a shame.

Still Homesick
Still Homesick

The fragile truce that marked the end of our nation's Civil War remains.... fragile.

snowflake
snowflake

way to go, guys! The community and the state have been working so hard to keep the VA open and now you want to write revisionist history and cause a stink. Some want to know why the sweat lodge was allowed and when it will be removed, but are not making a big deal out of it.

Cleburne123
Cleburne123

Cowards....and that goes for the VA Officials and the veterans whining about the flag.

Black Hawk
Black Hawk

So White vs. Native racism is bad but White vs. Black racism is OK? What is this "revisionist history"? They wanted to keep slavery the law of the land. What does this have to do with keeping the hospital open?

Dogwoman
Dogwoman

Wow. Comparing a sweat lodge to the Confederate flag. And using words like revisionist all in the same paragraph.

Appleton's wife
Appleton's wife

The KKK is part of our nation's history, but you don't see their trademark white cloaks or a burned cross proudly on display. There is a reason, it stands for something that is disgusting. The confederate flag too represents the disgusting attitudes of our past. Let's keep it in our past.

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