Confederate flags fly high in Catawba County as monuments go down

CATAWBA COUNTY, N.C. — Several large Confederate flags are flying across Catawba County and supporters said it's in response to the recent removal of Confederate memorials across the South.

Smitty Smith says he has 18 relatives who fought in the Civil War and is proud of the 30-by-20 foot Confederate flag that flies along Highway 16 in Catawba County.

"As they take down our monuments, this is a way that we support and respect our Confederate ancestors," said Smith, who is with Sons of Confederate Veterans.

It is on private property and there are no county ordinances regulating flags so it will stay up.

"Every night I salute our flag,” Joseph Golden said.

Golden, also a member of Sons of Confederate Veterans, has one of the large flags outside his business along Springs Road north of Hickory.

It has been difficult to watch monuments across the South come down, Golden said.

"It makes me want to cry,” Golden said. “It truly does. We want to honor the memory of our ancestors, whoever they were."

The head of the NAACP in Catawba County believes the new flags represent old divisions in the area, but since they are on private land and are not violating any laws, there is little he or anyone else can do about it.

"Tell me one good thing that came out of slavery,” Jerry L. McCombs said. “Nothing but hatred. That's all it was, was hatred."

Some who stopped by Monday believe that is not what the flag represents, and are glad to see them going up.

"To say it was a hate flag, that is totally obnoxious," supporter Don MacFerren said.