ILLINOIS — An organizer of a planned memorial to honor Confederate soldiers who died at an Illinois prison camp says the rebel flag will be displayed at the memorial's dedication, despite opposition.
"We consider this an honorable flag. This is a soldier's flag," said Ron Casteel, national chief of staff for the Sons of Confederate Veterans, one of the memorial's planners. "There will be no substitute."
Camp Butler, just east of Springfield, was a training facility for Union troops during the Civil War and a prison camp for more than 3,500 captured Confederates. More than 800 of the prisoners died and were buried there, and the site is now a national cemetery.
Local and cemetery officials already have approved the plans for the Confederate memorial there. Organizers have raised about $6,000 for the project, which will include a 7 1/2 foot obelisk, and hope to dedicate the memorial sometime next year.
The local NAACP chapter said the flag "represents oppression and murder." The Anti-Defamation League, which fights discrimination, proposed that organizers fly flags of individual Southern states during the dedication, saying many Americans consider the Confederate flag to be "a symbol of hatred and oppression."
Sens. Dick Durbin and Barack Obama also have asked federal officials to bar display of the flag during the ceremony.
Confederate flags are not allowed to be flown in national cemeteries. But Camp Butler officials say the flag can be carried in and out when monuments are dedicated.