The National Museum of Civil War Medicine, one of the real treasures of our historic district in downtown Frederick, introduced its new logo this week, and it is a gem.
It is in the form of a shield, an ancient symbol of the military. It incorporates blue and gray, the uniform colors of the Union and the Confederacy, as well as red, which marked field hospitals for both sides, and of course is the color of the blood that was shed. In the center are the military medical symbol and three stars, which represent the museum’s three locations.
What it does not include is the Confederate battle flag, the American flag or any flag at all.
For a while, that looked like that would become a huge issue for the Frederick museum. When the decision to drop the flag was announced, social media was whipped into a frenzy at the thought that anyone should “disrespect” the rebel flag.
It was all so stupid, a tempest fueled by those who have apparently never bothered to set foot in the museum. The museum’s displays give equal weight to the sacrifices and bravery of soldiers on both sides of America’s bloodiest war.
The museum’s mission is to inform and educate people about the work that was done, frequently under terrible conditions, to treat the men and women wounded in the war. All of the symbols of the war are on display within the museum’s walls.
The museum opened in 1996 in the Carty Building on East Patrick Street, a Civil War-era building that was once the location for Richard Burr, “the most dastardly embalmer of the Civil War,” according to its website.
In 2005, the museum took over operation of the Pry House Field Hospital Museum in Keedysville, a house that became a hospital during the Battle of Antietam. And then, six years ago, the museum took over another property: the Clara Barton Missing Soldiers Office, a historic site in downtown Washington.
The new logo will be used by all three locations. David Price, the museums’ executive director, told News-Post reporter Erika Riley that it was important that the three museums use the same logo.
He explained that new members who signed up at the Clara Barton Missing Soldiers Office were often confused when they received materials with a completely different logo and museum name.
Price told our reporter that the old logo with the flags of the Union and Confederacy did not represent the museums’ stories of medicine, civilian lives and a pioneering nurse.
While Price and the museum did not focus on the issue, the inclusion of the Confederate flag had prevented the museum from advertising in certain publications. Destination DC, Washington’s tourism bureau, declined to run a museum ad containing the logo in 2016.
The symbols of the Confederacy have become increasingly controversial and problematic in recent years. Whether supporters of the battle flag and Confederate monuments like to admit it or not, the rebels started the war to preserve the institution of slavery in the South. For that reason alone, those symbols are deeply offensive.
We strongly believe that the treasured local museum has made the right choice by dropping the flag from its logo. It should continue to display the Confederate symbols in the museum, where they can be explained in context.
The museum will continue to educate visitors about the terrible price in blood and treasure that our country had to pay to rid itself of the immoral, dehumanizing institution of slavery.