Flag in Summerall Chapel a memorial accepted by Gen. Summerall
A Confederate Naval Jack that hangs in the rear of Summerall Chapel is a memorial that falls under the state's Heritage Act according to a legal review conducted by The Citadel. The issue was mentioned by a Charleston County Council member who contacted The Citadel regarding the flag, asking that it be removed or that the school lose his support for $975,000 in Accommodations Tax funding due to be voted on June 3.
The flag, which was presented to Citadel President General Charles P. Summerall by the Cadet Yacht Club in 1939, was accepted by the longtime president as "a tribute to the courage and valor shown by American manhood in fighting for a cause." Summerall Chapel was only a year old when the club presented the flag. The Naval Jack was one of many flags from states, territories and other organizations that were given for the chapel after General Summerall wrote all the governors asking them to donate a state flag for display in the new chapel. In his letter, the president described Summerall Chapel as a "shrine, not only of religion but of patriotism."
The opinion that the flag is a memorial is based on Summerall's remarks in that letter and reported in the April 1939 Bull Dog, the cadet newspaper at the time. The decision states that to leave the flag in the chapel is a matter of following state law.
The state's Heritage Act was passed by the South Carolina Legislature in 2000 to protect established monuments and memorials located on public property that represent American wars or events of Native American and African-American significance. The legislation was part of a compromise reached to win support for removing the Confederate flag from the South Carolina State House and relocating it a monument on state house grounds.
The Naval Jack is one of 57 flags hanging along the interior walls of Summerall Chapel.
The cadet newspaper reported that when the chapel was first used, acoustical problems surfaced. Some civil engineering students recommended that the president write each governor to request a flag which would not only enhance the chapel but would also help with the sound. Flags have been present in Summerall Chapel since that time.
A representative from The Citadel will attend the meeting of the Charleston County Council on June 3 to listen to concerns about the flag and to present information on behalf of the college.