A Confederate monument featuring 32 flags representing Civil War regiments is nearing completion in an east Texas town, alongside Martin Luther King Jr. Drive.
The Sons of Confederate Veterans, which is building the $50,000 memorial on private property, has ordered flagpoles to stand alongside 13 columns representing the states that seceded from the United States and fought to preserve slavery.
The circular monument stands just north of Interstate 10, off a city street named for the slain civil rights leader, near the Louisiana border.
“I think it's a bad idea, but they own the property and the First Amendment warrants them that right,” said John Smith, city attorney for Orange, where the group is building the monument with private funding.
The nearly three dozen flags will be added in groups of eight, as funds allow, to honor Texas regiments in the Confederate army.
Smith said the city could have faced a lawsuit if officials had tried to block the memorial, which a poll showed was supported by 77 percent of Orange residents.
Granvel Block, an Orange resident who leads the statewide Sons of Confederate Veterans group, said southern states did not fight the Civil War to defend slavery – but instead were simply defending their sovereignty after "our states were invaded by northern troops."
He said the memorial is intended to correct the “poor skew” of historical teachings about the Civil War and the Confederacy.
Block is a plaintiff in a recent case before the U.S. Supreme Court, which will decide whether Texas was wrong to reject a specialty license plate displaying the Confederate flag.
He insists the location of the memorial along Martin Luther King Jr. Drive was not chosen to "stir the pot," but was simply the cheapest land the group could find in Orange.