Mississippi changing its flag isn't the end of Confederate symbols in state flags

Updated 2:09 PM ET, Wed July 1, 2020

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(CNN)Mississippi has made it official: The state's flag, which bears the familiar cross of the Confederate battle flag, will officially be changed. The state's Republican governor signed the decision into law, solidifying yet another response to ongoing racial reckonings around the country.

However, though the Mississippi flag was the last to bear the obvious image of the Confederate battle flag, there are other state flags that contain Confederate symbology that may be a little harder to spot.

The Confederate flags

First, let's clear up a common misconception: The crimson and blue flag we usually refer to as the Confederate flag is in fact a Confederate battle flag, most famously used by Gen. Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia.
The actual flag of the Confederate States looks a lot different: It has two red stripes and one white, with a familiar field of stars on the hoist. There were four iterations throughout the Confederacy's short life, with each one bearing different numbers of stars to correspond to the number of Confederate states at the time.
The famed phrase "Stars and Bars," however, usually refers to the original Confederate flag, designed in 1861, which has seven stars arranged in a circular pattern. This is an important flag to remember as you look at some current state flag designs.
Here's something else to remember: Flags, as a national symbol, are a relatively new invention. Marc Leepson, a historian and author of the book "Flag: An American Biography," explains that, up until the last few hundred years, flags and pennants were used most widely for military purposes. (Another fun fact, Leepson notes: The United States had an official national flag years before France. The US adopted its first version in 1777, while France didn't adopt one until 1794, during the French Revolution.)
    "For the first third of our nation's history, from about 1777 to 1861, it was almost unheard of for individual Americans to fly the flag. It was mostly flown primarily by the government, mainly by the military, and especially by the Navy," he says.
    Ironically, all of that changed when the Confederacy was formed, and with it, an enemy flag. Suddenly, American flags cropped up in and around Union homes, schools and businesses -- and the practice extended nationwide in later years.
    "When the Confederacy broke away, one of the first things that the Confederate Congress did was pick a flag," Leepson says. "There was a big debate, and the debate centered on how close the flag should look to the American flag. They held a contest, and took votes, and what did they do? They picked a flag with red and white stripes and stars."
    That proved difficult later on in the war. According to Leepson, during the especially foggy battle of Manassas in 1861, Confederate commanders realized it was hard to tell the two flags apart. Eventually, various iterations of the battle flag became more widely used.
    As you look at the different flags below, here are some things to note: The arrangement of stripes on the field, the t