MORGANTON, N.C. — A third large Confederate flag is now flying along a North Carolina interstate as the Sons of Confederate Veterans say they are flying the rebel banner because in other places in the South, Confederate memorials are being removed.
The latest flag was put up along Interstate 40 in Burke County near Morganton. Other Confederate flags fly along I-40 in Catawba County near Hickory and Interstate 95 in Cumberland County near Fayetteville.
The Confederate flags fly on poles on private property but are easily seen from the highway.
Civil rights leaders say they understand the group can fly the flags, but think it's wrong to not consider what the flag means to African-Americans and others since blacks living under the flag were slaves in a place that was willing to fight to keep them in chains.
The goal for the Sons of Confederate Veterans and other groups is to have a Confederate flag flying in each of the 17 counties that I-40 runs through in its nearly 425-mile (684-kilometer) path from the mountains to Wilmington.
"It's our history; it's our heritage. The flag is blowing because of the breath of the Confederate dead," Smith told the Hickory Daily Record after the Confederate flag went up in Catawba County last year.
Smith said Confederate groups are trying to get a flag up for every Confederate memorial taken down, like the statue to Southern general and early Ku Klux Klan leader Nathan Bedford Forrest which was removed in Memphis, Tennessee, last month