Michigan became an official member of the United States on January 26, 1837.
As such, it was a part of the Union when the Civil War broke out in 1861 and volunteers from Michigan fought and died to preserve the United States against rebellion by slave owning states of the south.
The Confederate battle flag of Virginia is a symbol of that southern rebellion Michigan fought against, which made its appearance in the Michigan Senate puzzling for many. Since the flag does not hold a favorable historical connection to the state, many speculated it was the flag's modern affiliations that led to its appearance in the Michigan legislature.
Many White supremacist and White nationalist organizations adopted the flag as their symbol.
So people were shocked that Michigan state Republican Senator Dale Zorn wore it as a face mask on the Senate floor. Recently the flag has been showing up during heavily armed anti-lockdown protests.
The organizers of these events also have White nationalist and White supremacist ties. But Zorn originally told the press the mask was not a Confederate flag.
You can see the Michigan GOP senator's remarks here.
"I told my wife it probably will raise some eyebrows, but it was not a Confederate flag."
The Republican state legislator added:
"Even if it was a Confederate flag, you know, we should be talking about teaching our national history in schools and that's part of our national history and it's something we can't just throw away because it is part of our history. And if we want to make sure that the atrocities that happened during that time doesn't happen again, we should be teaching it. Our kids should know what that flag stands for."
But it seemed Zorn was the one needing some history lessons. In 1861, Republicans were strongly in favor of the war as President Abraham Lincoln was a member of the GOP.
While the political stances of the two parties have reversed since then, it doesn't change the history of Michigan or the GOP. If exposing the state's youth to their Civil War history was the goal, the battle flag of one of the Michigan volunteer regiments would have worked.
It wasn't long before Zorn was singing a different tune, however.
In a statement to the press, the state senate Republican issued an apology, saying:
"I'm sorry for my choice of pattern on the face mask I wore yesterday on the Senate floor. I did not intend to offend anyone; however, I realize that I did, and for that I am sorry."
"Those who know me best know that I do not support the things this pattern represents. My actions were an error in judgment for which there are no excuses and I will learn from this episode."
Zorn's constituents had some less than positive feedback for their state senator.
Zorn's Twitter bio describes him as a small business owner with 30 years of public service. Prior to be in the Senate, Zorn served in the Michigan House of Representatives.
Zorn represents the 17th state district, located in the southeastern part of the state.