Confederate flag at Elizabethton cemetery could have been placed on grave site

By: Nate Morabito |
Published: March 15, 2012

The Elizabethton Police Department is investigating a complaint that two members of the Sons of Confederate Veterans desecrated a grave when they erected a confederate flag pole last year.

The Watauga Historical Association filed a police report yesterday in regards to Green Hill Cemetery after the group commissioned an archaeological survey of the site of the flag pole.

Patrick Garrow of Cultural Resource Analysts in Knoxville stated it was his opinion that the flag pole had been placed inside the parameters of a grave site, the report said.

"It has been assigned for further investigation to determine the specifics of the matter, and if a crime has occurred," Elizabethton Police Department Capt. Joy Markland said.

The Watauga Historical Association referred all comment on the matter to the law office of Hendry and Cash.

"Unfortunately, the flag pole is where one of the grave site’s is," law clerk Michelle Caggiano said. "They just want to make sure that the people who are interned in that cemetery are being respected in there peacefully. They are afraid that that’s going to look bad on them as caretakers, that they somehow may have allowed this to happen and they did not want this to happen."

The Watauga Historical Association publicly voiced opposition to the Sons of Confederate Veterans’ plan to erect a flag pole at the private cemetery last year, saying it is not a military cemetery and therefore should not be home to a military flag.

Despite that opposition, the Sons of Confederate Veterans dedicated a confederate flag at the cemetery in October. Members of the SCV said they received written permission from the Tipton Family to do so. In November, they reported their flag stolen and put up another confederate flag to replace the missing one.

SCV member Rick Morrell said although the flag pole may be resting on a grave site, there are no plans that he is aware of to take that pole down.

"It wasn’t intentional, I can assure you of that," Morrell said. "It may have went into the topsoil, but I don’t think it went down there where the people were. We put (the flag pole) between the two markers. We tried to put it between both graves."

Caggiano says if the SCV do not voluntarily take the pole down, the Watauga Historical Association is prepared to file a civil complaint.

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