Tampa, Florida - For the first time in three years, the huge controversial Confederate flag near I-4 and I-75 in Tampa is gone. It's been replaced with a much smaller flag. It's so small, you may not have even noticed it yet.
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Mike Herring with the Sons of Confederate Veterans is a descendant of soldiers who fought in the Civil War. He's proud of his history and proud of his Southern Heritage, despite the controversy centered around the Confederate flag.
Herring says the battle flag most of us have come accustomed to seeing in Tampa, the 30' by 50-foot flag that weighs 100 pounds, has been replaced with a different Confederate flag which is half the size. It went up a little more than a week ago.
Herring says, "This is the sesquicentennial year which 150 years ago Florida seceded from the Union on January 10th and then, of course, the war commenced a few months later, so there are a number of events going on all over the South and in recognition of that we decided to put the 3rd National flag up for an indefinite time."
Herring says they also changed the flag to drum up new interest in the memorial park which honors Confederate soldiers. It's located at 10418 E. U.S. 92 in Tampa. He says for a minimum donation of $100, you can have your name or a soldier's name engraved on one of the granite walls in the park.
He says hundreds have already signed up and their names are due to go up on the wall in a little less than two weeks.
He adds, "So this is open to the entire public. You don't have to be a descendant. It does not matter." Click here for information on how to have a name added.
But there are a lot of people who find any Confederate flag, no matter what the size, offensive. They see it as a symbol of hate and racism used by the Ku Klux Klan and neo Nazis.
Herring says, "Their distorted views don't represent anything that we stand for. This is America. This is private property and we have a right to fly it. There's a great history behind this flag if you take the time to explore it."
He says the Civil War wasn't just about slavery.
The war pitted the North against the South. The North wanted an end to slavery the South did not.
Herring says, "Not everybody views the flag in the same way even on our side. Some find it with regional pride. In our case it's because of the Confederacy - what it stood for - the protection of the constitution, the freedom that we sought from the Union from the federal government."
He adds, " We don't want to forget the sacrifices that these men made and that's really the charge of the SCV to protect the Confederate soldiers good name."
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