Saturday, November 15, 2008

Iowa Civil War Battle Flags

Restored U.S. flag from the 15th Iowa Infantry is back on display at the Iowa Capitol.

The whole Iowa Capitol building is a monument dedicated to Iowa Civil War veterans; the battle flags were displayed hanging from poles in display cases on the ground floor for over a century. On the field trip when I was in fifth grade, the docent told us the reason was at the time, the prevailing sentiment was for the flags to decay over the years--the war was so terrible they didn't think future generations needed reminders of the horrors. About eight years ago they started taking them all down for conservation and restoration to preserve them for future future generations.

The flags were mostly made by the women in the communities where the volunteers were organized. I understand the need for standardization in the modern battlefield, but wouldn't the community involvement of the 19th century be good in our current wars?

My favorite flag design is the 30th Iowa, out of Keokuk:

...and back when I was in fifth grade, you could go up to the very top of the Capitol rotunda dome and even outside to see the view. Now it's authorized personnel only, so your survivors can't sue if you jump. The 21st century is not always an improvement.

(I tried to volunteer to help with the flag restoration project when I lived in Des Moines, but they only worked during business hours when I was out pressing buttons to keep a roof over my head. When I get laid off from the Obama business tax increase and go on the public dole like everyone else, I'd like to try something like this to fill my days--not necessarily battle flags but any pre-1960s historical textiles; no commercial value, but important so future generations might get a glimpse of what America used to be.)

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