MONTGOMERY COUNTY, N.C. - For more than 20 years, the Uwharrie Volunteer Fire Department has flown the Confederate Flag, but now, there’s a renewed effort to take it down.
It’s continued to be a divisive issue, nationally – and in this rural county. What some see as a symbol of history and pride, others see a symbol of hate. The Chairman of the Montgomery County Commission calls this issue complex, but those who put the flag up don't see it that way, nor do the people who want it down.
“This is wrong, and it just has to end, and it's that simple,” said Ray Hudson, who lives in the county with his wife, Frances.
They are part of the Democratic Party of Montgomery County, and on Saturday, will be handing out American flag pins at this weekend’s 8th District Democratic Convention at East Montgomery High School. They’re handing out the pins in support of removing that rebel flag from the Uwharrie Volunteer Fire Department’s station. But, they’ve also helped write a resolution – demanding the flag come down.
“At some point, the county commissioners, if [the fire department does] not want to take the flag down, we need to stop funding them and create another fire station,” said Hudson.
People living across the street from the station did not want to be interviewed, but see the flag as a symbol of their history – and believe there’s no point in taking it down because it’s been up for years.
That's where county commissioners says it gets complicated. The building itself is not county owned, but tax dollars from everyone in the county do fund its operation. The county funds pay for their trucks, as well as those at other volunteer departments.
While Chairman Jackie Morris says personally, he wants to see it down. However, he says would hate to know actions county leaders take could disrupt fire service, and would hate for something bad to happen if that service was canceled.
Former Commissioner Ralph Bostic first brought up the removal more than 10 years ago. He says the flag has no place on the fire station.
“The first thing people see when they're driving into the county from Winston-Salem, or other places, they see a rebel flag. That's not good for the county, the business, the economics, or anything else,” he said.
The Fire Chief for the Uwharrie Fire Department says he has no comment.