In a controversial move, the National Museum of Civil War Medicine has sought to remove both the Confederate and the Union flag from the museum’s logo. The current logo displaying the two flags split between the Rod of Asclepius – a symbol of the Greek deity associated with healing and medicine – will be replaced on January 15th.
Last August the museum opened up an anonymous survey to the public, asking whether either flag should be on the logo. “To state the obvious, our logo incorporates the Confederate battle flag,” the survey introduction reads. “The feelings that flag generates have changed over the past 20 years. Therefore, it is appropriate for us to study our brand identity, to confirm it represents our story and encompasses all of our locations.”
The 3,000 responses the museum received varied, ranging from the incredibly heated to the more middling replies. Ultimately the museum decided to rebrand, hiring a Pennsylvania marketing firm, Invictus, to design the new logo. However, David Price, the executive director for the museum, emphasized that the museum would have sought to rebrand “even if our logo was a circle, a square and a triangle,” he told The Frederick News-Post.
Since 2005 the museum has grown from the Carty Building in Frederick, Maryland to three different locations – partnering with the National Park Service in 2005 to manage the Pry House Field Hospital Museum in Maryland, and in 2012 acquiring the Clara Barton Missing Soldiers Office Museum in D.C. To reflect the different historical focuses, the new logo, “will be composed of a shield, the Caduceus medical symbol and three stars to represent the museum’s three locations. The colors are blue, gray and red, a nod to both sides in the war,” reports the Washington Post.
The removal comes amidst a controversial national conversation around the removal of Confederate flags and monuments, with many critics of this current rebranding arguing that it comes on the heels of having an ad pitch declined in 2016 by the D.C. tourism organization Destination DC due to its logo. Price denies this, telling the Washington Post that, “there was really no pressure from anybody to eliminate that flag. The pressure was that we have a logo that doesn’t reflect the organization right now, because we’ve grown from one to three. That’s it.”
Twitter, Facebook, and Reddit, where ad hominem reigns, had thoughts:
“Leave it alone.” One Twitter follower wrote. “It is a shame you are so weak you cannot stand up for what you KNOW is right. Be unmoved.”
“This is asinine. God save us from the snowflakes,” wrote a Facebook member of the online Confederate Monuments Protection Society.
On Reddit a commenter responded, “If there is anyone who can display the Confederate flag without racist intent, it’s definitely a civil war museum. It would be one thing if the place was a Confederate memorabilia display and glorified the South, but they provide education on the history of the war. I don’t see how white-washing history helps anything.”
Up until recently Price agreed, telling The Frederick News-Post that “a couple of years ago, I felt this was the perfect logo for this place.”
However, Price is quick to point out that while the Confederate (and Union) flag is being dropped, “This is not about banning the Confederate flag from our museum,” Price tells the Washington Post. “It has been around this museum since its inception. It’s part of our history.”