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Virginia Confederate Flag Protesters Plan Action At Appomattox Museum Opening

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WASHINGTON -- When the Museum of the Confederacy opens its new branch location at Appomattox, Va., on Saturday, don't expect to see a Confederate flag. But expect plenty of controversy.

As the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported, protesters plan to be out in full force at the museum's opening, saying the museum should not hide the symbol of their ancestors.

"We feel like it's dishonoring them to put some kind of shame on the flag and make it something that has to be hidden," Virginia Flaggers founder Susan Hathaway told the newspaper.

The museum, which among other artifacts features the sword Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee had when he surrendered to Union Gen. Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox in 1865, is focused on the post-Civil War struggle of unification. And Saturday's opening ceremony will reflect that message.

The Washington Post details how the official events will play out:

At the 10 a.m. ceremony, open to the public, a flag will be raised for each state in the order it seceded. At that point, [museum president and CEO Waite] Rawls said he will say to the audience, "Then, we became one nation. Please stand for the Stars Spangled Banner."

That inclusive gesture is also reflected inside the 12,000-square-foot museum with the first of 11 galleries devoted to the question of slavery and another including President Abraham Lincoln's visit to Richmond after the city fell.

According to a blog for Southern flag activists, protesters will "stand in peaceful, yet forceful protest of this discriminatory action taken by the Museum of the Confederacy."

As the Times-Dispatch reports, the Virginia Flaggers group has been actively protesting the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts since October, after a Confederate flag was removed from the Confederate Memorial Chapel on its grounds in Richmond.

The group was drawn at least 160 protesters -- some who have come as far away as Texas -- in actions that have played out at the museum at least twice a week, according to the Times-Dispatch.