BURKE COUNTY, N.C. -- A large Confederate flag flying along I-40 near the Burke-McDowell County line is reigniting debate over the flag's purpose in modern-day society.

The flag, hoisted Saturday on private property near Exit 94 for Dysartsville Road, is part of a Sons of Confederate Veterans' campaign to place Confederate Flags in every county along the I-40 corridor.

"It's our heritage," Smitty Smith, a member of the group, said.

In Alamance County, Gary Williamson with the group Alamance County Taking Back Alamance County said the more their southern history is attacked, the more flags that will go up.

"They have done a amazing job. With the request from Roy Cooper to remove the 3 monuments on the state grounds, us, the SCV, and others are jumping in to help with these projects. With the attacks against anything Southern related today, and the removal of historical symbols, monuments, and memorials, more and more flags are going to go up," said Williamson.

He added the campaign is a response, in part, to the removal of Confederate monuments throughout the South, including, most recently, a statue of Confederate General Nathan Forrest in a Memphis, Tennessee park.

Many locals said they don't mind the flag itself, though some criticized the size of the flag, which is 20 feet by 30 feet.

"I just thought it was kind of dumb," Dakota Duckworth said. "it was so big. It makes people mad, and that was just something to make people mad."

Over the last few months, Confederate flags have been raised in prominent spots near major roadways across the region, including In Gaston, Lincoln and Catawba counties.

The Catawba County NAACP told WCNC its members view the flag as the product of racism and a reminder of the prevalence of slavery prior to the Civil War.

However, Jerry McCombs, the group's local president, said because the flags are flying on private property, the group can only raise awareness of their views of the flag.

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