A group of Texans attempting to build a memorial to the Confederate war dead in Orange claim that the controversy around their plan to fly 32 Confederate battle flags -- eight prominent ones, and another 24 to represent the Texas regiments that fought in the war -- is "overblown," The Washington Post's Peter Holley reports.
According to the spokesman for the Texas Sons of Confederate Veterans, Marshall Davis, "all we want to do is honor our war dead. We want to honor our heroes. We don’t want to impede anyone from honoring their heroes, their veterans and their war dead. We would like the same tolerance and courtesy."
The purpose of the eight large flags isn't to antagonize drivers on nearby Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive, but to increase the memorial's visibility from neighboring Interstate 10. According to a flyer seeking donations, "your support will enable passengers in over 55,000 cars per day see Confederate Flags flying proudly in the Texas breeze."
David Moore, Lieutenant Division Commander of the Texas Sons of Confederate Veterans, told the Post that the flag shouldn't be seen as a symbol of slavery, because the Civil War was actually fought over state's rights, and the South only joined in the fight after it was "invaded by Northern troops."
"We’re not a hate group or anything like that," he added. "My great-grandfather joined the Confederate army and he didn’t own any slaves, so why did he fight? It was to preserve his family, his children and his state’s rights."
The group's spokesman, Davis, agreed -- but went one step further, claiming that "the American flag flew over a slave nation for over 100 years. The Confederate flag flew over a slave nation for four years. By comparison, the American flag is 25 times more a slave flag."
An Orange native who fought the construction of the memorial, Meredith Morgan, said that no matter what the Texas Sons of Confederate Veterans claim the flag represents, it has been unambiguously "adopted by white extremist groups [as] a symbol of hate."
"How do we explain to our children that this monument only represents the divide of the United States in the directional sense?" she asked. "In its best form, the flag is still a symbol of division and rebellion."