A new large Confederate flag is flying just off Interstate 40 in Hildebran and a member of a Confederate heritage group that's responsible said it won’t be the last flag to go up.
Elgie McGalliard said erecting the flag was completed Sunday by efforts from multiple chapters of North Carolina Sons of Confederate Veterans, and that more flags will be going up over the next year. In January, another Confederate flag was installed along I-40 near Exit 94 in Burke County.
The flags are going up in response to Confederate statues being taken down across the state, McGalliard said, including Silent Sam at UNC-Chapel Hill, which was torn down by protestors in August.
University officials recommended building a $5.3 million building to house the statue, WRAL reported, but McGalliard worried that it was an attempt to hide the statue from the public.
“We hope they put it in a visible place,” McGalliard said.
The North Carolina Division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans released a statement on the university’s recommendation for the fate of the statue.
“The North Carolina Division, Sons of Confederate Veterans maintains its position that the rule of law should be applied and Silent Sam should be restored,” the statement said. “North Carolina state law is clear on this matter. At this time, we have no further comment and will await the reaction of the UNC Board of Governors.”
The new flag in Hildebran marks the 10th or 12th flag put up in Burke, Caldwell, Catawba and Alexander counties and the 15th or 16th flag in the state, McGalliard said. The flag was dedicated to confederate veterans during a ceremony Sunday, McGalliard said.
McGalliard said the flag cost at least $3,000, and was put on land that belongs to Cook Properties LLC, a company owned by former Hildebran mayor and former county commissioner candidate Virginia (Jennie) Cook and her husband, Barry, according to county property records.
Cook wouldn’t comment on the flag when The News Herald contacted her on Monday.
Current Hildebran Mayor Wendell Hildebrand told The News Herald on Monday that he didn't think the flags were good for the town.
“I don’t think it’s going to help bring business to town and that’s what we’re really looking for,” Hildebrand said. “I’m opposed to them taking down statues, but I just don’t think this is in the best interest of the town.”
Hildebrand said he thinks the money spent on the flags could have been better spent helping others.
“[The money] could have been spent for the good,” Hildebrand said. “It could have been spent to help our veterans, for example. I think that would have been a better use of the money.”
Chrissy Murphy is a staff writer and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 828-432-8941.