Published May 31, 2008
A giant Confederate battle flag may soon be flying near a Tampa highway intersection.
A Confederate heritage group called the Sons of Confederate Veterans plans to fly the 30-by-50 flag atop a 139-foot pole, the highest the FAA will allow.
The group, which bills its Confederate flag as the "world's largest," expects to have it in place by 2009, The St. Petersburg Times reported.
The group has building permits but still needs $30,000 to complete the project, which will be located on private property at the intersection of Interstates 4 and 75.
Organizers say the flag is not a racist statement but a piece of history. They hope it encourages people to stop and see a monument to Confederate soldiers that they plan to build.
Local NAACP president Curtis Stokes, however, says he was shocked to hear about plans to have the flag flying next year.
"I'm surprised that they would allow something like this to go on in Hillsborough County," he told The St. Petersburg Times.
Douglas Dawson, the Sons of Confederate Veterans' Florida commander, told The Times he is aware that a giant Confederate flag flying 24 hours a day over two of the Tampa area's busiest roads will cause controversy.
But he says it is important to honor ancestors and celebrate heritage.
Some local business owners are worried the flag will drive customers away, even if they are not personally offended by it.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.