Group upset by removal of memorials raises massive Confederate flag along I-40

BURKE COUNTY, N.C. — The Sons of Confederate Veterans raised a 20-by-30-foot Confederate flag Friday on an 80-foot pole along Interstate 40 in east Burke County.

The flag replaces a smaller version and is one of several that have gone up as Confederate memorials and statues have come down.

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“The Sons of Confederate Veterans, we’re trying to replace the statue with flags, and we try to put them on the interstate so more people can see it,” said Elgie McGalliard, Sons of Confederate Veterans.

County leaders can’t remove the flags because they are on private property and there are no ordinances against it.

The mayor of a nearby town opposes the flag, which cost nearly $800.

“I’ve had numerous contacts from people saying they wouldn’t do business in town because of that flag. $800. That could be better used to help veterans,” Hildebran Mayor Wendell Hildebran said.

A similar flag was damaged last week along Highway 16 in Newton. The Sons of Confederate Veterans said they’re also watching the memorial in downtown Morganton “24/7″ to keep it from being damaged.

They said they are not trying to put anyone down but, instead, want to share their Confederate heritage.

“Take down our statues and we’re going to put up a flag somewhere along the major interstates in North Carolina,” McGalliard said.

The group said it raised the large flag for the Fourth of July weekend.