You might see the Confederate flag flying somewhere in South Dakota, but controversy can follow. Some residents try to point out its historical purpose or as a symbol of Southern pride during times of debate.
The VA Medical Center in Hot Springs had three Confederate flags displayed in the rotunda of its main building. One was the familiar Confederate battle flag and the other two were different versions of the design in the evolution of the flag.
Center officials took down the flag after two African-American veterans complained about the displays. The flags were flying again when the vets left the hospital, but the controversy emerged involving state and federal officials, according to the Rapid City Journal
. Veterans Administration officials had the flags removed again.
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Don Balyeat, a retired AAA manager and Civil War buff, told the Rapid City Journal that the flags should have remained at the VA building because they represent history, not a symbol of racism or segregation. The flags also honor Confederate soldiers who worked in mining camps and even served with federal troops after the Civil War in the Black Hills of South Dakota.
Balyeat speaks to students in schools and organizations throughout the state about the historical significance of the Confederate flag. He points out that the Confederate battle flag, the most popular version, was used in the battlefield to distinguish it from the U.S. flag by Union troops. The flag was later used by hate groups.
The national controversy surrounding the Confederate flag reaches states such as South Dakota where some residents might display the flag for various reasons.
The call to take the Confederate flag down from the grounds of the South Carolina statehouse led to the removal of the flag in many parts of the country. During the heated national debate in June 2015, a couple in Sioux Falls raised a Confederate flag in their front yard, reportedly to anger their neighbors, according to a report for KSFY
The neighbors weren’t necessarily disturbed by what they thought of the flag, but were more concerned about any backlash or vandalism within the neighborhood because the Confederate flag was flying on one property.
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