PADUCAH, Ky. – A Confederate history organization has put up a flagpole in western Kentucky near Interstate 24 and plans to fly a large battle flag.
The pole is on private land in Reidland at exit 16.
The Paducah Sun reported Kentucky division commander John Suttles of the Sons of Confederate Veterans said the land for a memorial park was donated by a man who had Confederate ancestors.
Suttles said the park will contain, besides the flagpole, benches and a circle of bricks to represent fallen Confederate soldiers.
"We are doing this to honor ancestors," Suttles said. "It's the 150th anniversary of the war for Southern independence. People may have mixed feelings about this, but it is historic."
McCracken County Judge-Executive Van Newberry said that doesn't mean people seeing it won't form opinions about Paducah.
"There are people that view that flag with disdain," Newberry said. "It's going to be seen by travelers, and we don't need that. That's unfortunate."
But he said as long as the group follows county code as they are putting it up, it is protected by the First Amendment.
Sons of Confederate Veterans national executive director Ben Sewell said there are similar flags set up in places all over the South, including along Interstate 65 in Alabama. He said the idea is to put them in high-visibility spots.
"The flag was created to distinguish Confederate soldiers in the war," Sewell said. "Quite frankly, that is all it has ever stood for. It's other people who have put that stigma on it. It is a historical war flag."
A similar memorial was built in 1998 on private land bordering Interstate 65 at the southern edge of Nashville, Tenn.
It features an equestrian statute of Confederate Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest and 13 poles that display the Confederate battle flag and the flags of those states that were members of the Confederacy.