For one day in central Virginia, the South rose again.
Hundreds gathered in a wooded area alongside I-95 just south of Richmond on Saturday to celebrate the raising of the Confederate battle flag — which many critics view as a symbol of racism and hate.
The crowd cheered with rebel yells and gunfire as the 15-by-15 foot flag was lifted up the 50-foot pole, which can be seen by tens of thousands of motorists along the highway each day.
But Susan Hathaway, a member of the Virginia Flaggers — which purchased the Stars and Bars from the Army of Northern Virginia — said the message was heritage, not hate, to mark the 150th anniversary of the Civil War.
“As sons and daughters of the South, we have inherited a birthright. Ours is a proud heritage,” she told the crowd during the flag-raising ceremony.
“We are descendants of Confederates, we are friends of Confederates. ...The flag that is being raised today will be a living, breathing memorial to our Confederate dead.”