The upcoming edition of a Washington, D.C., visitors guide will not include an advertisement for a Frederick museum because the museum’s logo includes a flag associated with the Confederacy.
Claire Carlin, vice president of partnerships and alliances for Destination DC, wrote in an email on Monday to the National Museum of Civil War Medicine that the company has decided not to run any ads depicting the flag in its September publication. A copy of the email was shared with The Frederick News-Post.
In response to inquiries for comment on Tuesday, Danielle Davis, director of communications for Destination DC, sent an emailed statement on behalf of Elliott Ferguson, the organization’s president and CEO.
“We are constantly evaluating how best to promote Washington, D.C., for visitors and have decided not to include images that can be considered controversial, which includes the confederate flag and weapons,” the email stated. “We certainly recognize that the National Museum of Civil War Medicine is a place to learn about American history and we are willing to promote the museum without the confederate flag imagery in our publications.”
Carlin previously asked the museum to submit an alternate image to run with its advertisement.
David Price, executive director of the museum, refused to honor her request. In a phone interview on Tuesday, he said the decision disappointed and surprised him.
The Civil War Medicine museum has been a member of Destination DC — and paid the $1,000 annual membership fee — since 2011, Price said. Museum advertisements with the same or a similar logo were included in prior editions of the biannual Official Visitors Guide, including one published earlier this year.
The prior ads created concern, Carlin’s first email stated. She also wrote that there were “sensitivities around this image.”
Names and images connected to the Civil War, slavery and race have faced new scrutiny on national, state and local levels.
The Frederick Board of Aldermen decided to relocate a bust of Roger Brooke Taney from outside Frederick City Hall. The tribute to the fifth chief justice of the United States — and author of the Dred Scott decision, which says African-Americans aren’t U.S. citizens — has not yet been removed.
The town of Emmitsburg faced similar discussions surrounding its doughboy statue, which honors some World War I veterans as “colored soldiers.”
State legislators considered but declined to change some of the state’s enduring symbols of the Confederacy, including the state song, “Maryland, My Maryland,” and a Taney statue on the State House grounds in Annapolis.
Price acknowledged the heightened awareness surrounding these symbols. He wrote in an email on Tuesday that discussions of Confederate flags have often ended with the conclusion that the proper place for the flag is a museum.
“Well — we are a museum,” he wrote.
Price said by phone that he respected Destination DC’s decision, but he also called it a “missed opportunity” for education.
“I wish they would have taken it as an opportunity to explain our museum and the flag and why we have it and how it’s used,” he said.
The East Patrick Street museum highlights Civil War-era history, including medical history, and camp and hospital life as experienced by both sides of the conflict, according to its website. The logo includes what is either the Army of Tennessee western theater battle flag or the post-1863 Confederate Navy Jack, according to research from Mike Galloway, a historian who works the museum.
The logo also includes a U.S. flags and a snake wrapped around a rod — a popular symbol of medicine based on Greek mythology.
“The role of the museum is to tell the history,” Price said. “We couldn’t tell the history without telling both sides.”
He said both sides shaped the modern health care system. They also treated each other’s wounded soldiers.
The same or similar logos have been featured in materials published by the Tourism Council of Frederick County and the American Bus Association, as well as numerous other state and national tourism guides, according to Price. No other organizations have expressed concern or relayed problems caused by the logo, he said.
Destination DC will reimburse the museum for the cost of the advertisement. As a Destination DC member, the museum was required to place two ads per year — at a cost of $4,468 total, based on the last two ads placed, according to Price.
Price said the museum will use its refund to advertise elsewhere. As for continuing its membership, he said, “we will definitely reevaluate.”