History and symbols (2)


American Civil War.  Confederate soldiers left.  Union camp right.   Photos: public domain


         IN THE NEWS / JUNE 23, 2015

THE Civil War in America was terrible. It was a very sad time in America. More American soldiers died in the Civil War than in any other war. 

     The war begins in 1860, more than 100 years ago. It is fought between states in the south and states in the north. Abraham Lincoln is president. (He is the tall man in the picture on the right.) Lincoln wants to end slavery. [Slavery is when some people “own” other people. Stronger people buy and sell weaker people. They steal [take away] their freedom and use them to make money.] 

     The states in the south want slavery. In December 1860, South Carolina [a state in the south] says it is going to leave the United States. It wants to make a new country. At that time [in 1860], there are 33 states in America. Eleven states leave the United States to join the new country. Jefferson Davis is the president of the south. On April 12, 1861, Confederate Soldiers attack Union (northern) soldiers and the Civil War begins. It lasts 5 years: from 1860 - 1865.  Soldiers in the southern states are called Confederates. In the north, soldiers are called Union soldiers. 


1. The civil war was between ...                              a. slavery

2. The civil war was started because of ...            b. Confederate soldiers

3.  Southern soldiers were called ...                      c. southern states and northern states

4. Northern soldiers were called …                       d. President of the Confederacy

5. Abraham Lincoln was …                                     e. President of the United States

6. Jefferson Davis was …                                         f. Union soldiers



TOP: flag of the United States  BOTTOM: flag of the Confederacy

ON June 17, 2015 a very sad thing happens in South Carolina. A white man goes into a church when people are praying and shoots nine black people. The church is called Emanual Church. Emanual means “God with us”. Since 1818 the church is a place where black people go to worship [pray to God]. People think of a church as a safe place. People think of a church as a place where you are free, a place without fear. So it shocks everyone that a young white man goes into a church to kill black people. The man believes in what is called racism. [racism: to believe that some races of people are better than other races.] 

     Now, all over America, people are asking questions. Should the Confederate flag be used today in the south? Some people say it is an important symbol of our history. Some people say it is a symbol of hatred and fear, a symbol of pain and suffering. But the most important question people are asking is not about the flag. It is this:  Is America still divided? Is the Confederate flag a symbol of what America is like today?  


1. “Divided” means that ...                                a. people can be different but still live and work together

2. “United” means that ...                                 b. is an act of racism

3.  The killing of black people ...                     c. people don’t live and work together and help each other

4. The Confederate flag is a symbol …           d. of safety and peace

5. A church is a symbol …                                 e. of division [being divided]

6. Is the Confederate flag a symbol …            f. of what America is like today?


1.) What are important symbols in your country?

2.) What is an important symbol to you? 

3.) Do you think people in the south have a right to fly [put up] the Confederate flag?


1.)  The Confederate ___ Union soldiers fought against each other. 

2.)  Should the Confederate flag be put up in public places ___ shown in museums?

3.)  People think history is important ___ they don’t know if it is right to hang the flag in public.

4.)  President Lincoln ____ President Davis both loved America.

5.)  Soldiers ____ civilians [people who don’t fight] both suffered in the war.

6.)  People can fear each other ___ they can try to understand each other.

7.)  Freedom of speech is important, ___ are people free to say bad things about other people?

8.)  Symbols are important ___ they are not all good.

9.)  History ___ symbols often go together.

10.)  History cannot change ___ our thoughts about it can change.


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