Rebel Flag Park Opening
By MIKE SALINERO
Published: April 3, 2009
TAMPA – A park memorializing Confederate veterans will officially open April 25 with cannon fire, live music and re-enactors impersonating famous Southern generals.
The park, near the junction of interstates 4 and 75, gained notoriety last summer when the Sons of Confederate Veterans raised a 30-by-50-foot Confederate flag there. In October, the group replaced that flag with a larger one.
The Sons group said they raised the flag to draw attention to the 1.9-acre memorial park at its base. Lawyer David McCallister, an officer of the group, said the park was built to relate the "actual history of the Confederacy that is not subject to the politically correct whims of today."
"It’s not all about slavery," McCallister said. "There were a lot of social and political issues involved. We want to bring about a dialogue on those issues and remember the history and honor the memory of our ancestors."
McCallister said the Sons decided to create the park and hoist the flag after the Hillsborough County Commission failed to mark Confederate Memorial Day, April 26, with a proclamation in 2007. It was the first time in memory that the commission did not mark the day or proclaim April as Southern Heritage Month.
Civil rights activists and some commissioners have denounced the gigantic flag as a painful reminder of the system that enslaved blacks before the Civil War. McCallister and others say Confederate soldiers were Americans and are due the same respect as other veterans of the nation’s wars.
The dedication ceremony will be from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the park at 10418 U.S. 92. For information, visit www.tampaflag.info.
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