Six Flags Over Texas used to have a flag representing each chapter of the state's history flying over the entrance: One flag representing the United States, Spain, France, Mexico, the Republic of Texas, and most infamously, the Confederate States of America.
The regional theme park, based in Arlington, Texas, decided Friday morning that only the American flag would fly at the entrance in response to the growing controversy surrounding Confederate historical items on display in public spaces.
Why the flags came down
A statement explained the theme park's reasons for the move, after it had previously declined to remove the controversial Confederate flag.
"At Six Flags Over Texas we strive every single day to make people happy and to create a fun, thrilling and safe family friendly experience for our guests," Six Flags spokeswoman Sharon Parker said. "We always choose to focus on celebrating the things that unite us versus those that divide us. As such, we have changed the flag displays in our park to feature American flags."
Why was there a Confederate flag in the first place?
History has been a prominent theme for Six Flags Over Texas since its inception, although Parker said that has been downplayed some in recent years as the Six Flags brand has grown.
“When Six Flags Over Texas was being planned during the Eisenhower administration, the founders settled on six themed areas and decided to use the historic fact of the flags of six nations that had flown over Texas as the basis of the themed areas,” Parker said. “Since that time, the park has moved on to incorporate many other themes. The Six Flags represent our brand across the world; no longer the themed areas of a park that opened in 1961.”
When Six Flags Over Texas first opened, there was a section of the park called "The Confederacy" that was later renamed to "The Old South."
The flag that flew over the theme park was not the more well-known Confederate battle flag, but rather the earlier version of the Confederate flag that was replaced due to being too similar to the Union flag.
The two sides
The debate about Confederate artifacts continues. Defenders of the monuments and flags believe it is important to preserve them in public spaces for historical awareness, while those in favor of removing Confederate markers say their presence in public spaces is offensive, oppressive and unnecessary, and that history can effectively be preserved in museums and books.
The violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, which started with a white nationalist protest of the removal of a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee, has intensified the debate of relics of the Confederacy.
Even the two sons of Six Flags Over Texas founder Angus Wynne Jr., Shannon and Angus III, disagree on the move. Angus said he would rather remove the flags than have it become a source of division, while Shannon said removing the other five flags is an overreach.
"The fact is the Confederacy did exist and Texas was a part of it," Shannon Wynne said to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
(H/T: Fort Worth Star-Telegram)