Group plans to fly huge Confederate Flag by I-95

Published: Aug. 7, 2013 at 4:22 AM EDT|Updated: Aug. 17, 2013 at 11:59 AM EDT
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RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Honoring history, or raising questions of racism? One group in Virginia is planning to fly a Confederate flag, fifty feet in the air, along a busy interstate, for all entering the city to see. The Confederate flag would fly off I-95, in the Chester area, south of Richmond.

The group, Virginia Flaggers, say our state's Confederate heritage is being stripped, and this flag stands to preserve it. They say it's not about slavery, but standing up for the Confederate soldier, their ancestors, who fought for this state.

Others, would clearly disagree. The director of the Virginia chapter of the NAACP tells Style Weekly that he is "appalled ...and deeply embarrassed" by the move.

The Confederate battle flag doesn't stand for protecting slavery, according to the Confederate advocacy group, the Virginia flaggers.

"Absolutely not...that's just ludicrous," said Grayson Jennings, of the Virginia Flaggers.

So what does it stand for, if many understand the Civil War to have centered around slavery, the South, fighting to keep it?

"The flag will be raised in memory and honor of the Confederate soldiers who sacrificed and gave everything they had for the state of Virginia," said Susan Hathaway, a Virginia Flagger.

However, wasn't Virginia seceding, in part, to protect the institution of slavery?

"That's not what they were fighting for. They were fighting to defend Virginia. Virginia called them to service, leave their homes, leave their wives," said Susan Hathaway.

"Slavery was on the way out. I mean, it was on the way out," said Jennings.

"It was about the entire people of the South fighting for their freedom from the federal government, just as in the American Revolution," said Karen Cooper, who also has African American roots.

The Virginia Flaggers say those offended by the Confederate flag should take a look at the history of the United States flag, and some of the things it has traditionally stood for.

"The whole country practiced slavery. It was a legal institution. If I'm not offended by the U.S. flag, why should I be offended by the Confederate battle flag?" continued Cooper.

Inevitably, the Confederate flag will always mean different things for different people.

"Myself personally, I don't like the flag... It doesn't offend me either...I know how far we've come past that...and we just got to look forward to the future," said Thomas Hardy.

The Virginia Flaggers are working to raise about $3,000 to raise this flag, and hope to have it lit 24-7. The group has already leased a piece of land along the interstate, from who they say is a private owner.

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