Some southerners, who see the confederate flag as an important part of American history, are refusing to take down the controversial image in the wake of recent decisions by many organizations and businesses across the nation to remove all things confederate flag related.
The flag at the Confederate Memorial Park in Florida is the nation’s largest at 50 by 30 feet, and flies on a 139-foot-tall pole.
Sixty-four year old Greg Wilson, a flag retailer who was visiting Florida, said, “I don't know how it just happened overnight," about the debate over the flag’s place on national and historical landmarks. He said he will keep selling flags: "I'm not going to let them control me.”
That was the overall feeling at the park’s memorial, which includes granite plaques with episodes and figures from the Confederacy. The Sons of Confederate Veterans formed the park six years ago after raising $150,000.
Marion Lambert, who helped build the park, said "Why does it resonate so strongly with us? Because we know the history.”
The public has spoken widely against the flag after the deaths of nine black church members in Charleston, South Carolina, on June 17th by a young white supremacist who wore the symbol with pride. Major retailers, such as Wal-Mart, have ceased selling the flag and related items. Officials are calling for the flag to be removed from memorials and monuments all over the U.S.
For Lambert and others, the flag is still a part of significant history.
“It's the emotional, guttural affinity one has, what's coursing through your veins, the sweet hills of Alabama or Virginia: your lineage” Lambert said.
The flag was taken down in Tallahassee by Governor Jeb Bush in 2001. The symbol was taken from official seals later in Hillsborough County.
Democratic U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, wants to remove I-75’s flag, too, saying, "It just flies in the face of the values we hold dear.”
Natasha Goodley, vice president of the Hillsborough County NAACP, said of the flag she saw every day on her way to work, "To see that every day, as big as it is: What is the purpose? Is it just to honor the soldiers? Because there's other ways to honor them," she said. "My heart says the purpose was to get a rise out of people like me."
The struggle in the south over whether the Confederate flag will be removed completely continues on both sides of the issue.