A privately owned park in St. Mary's County has become the most overt and public site for celebration of Confederate symbols in the entire state.
The Confederate Memorial Park at Point Lookout Maryland is the outgrowth of a 19-year ban on the display of Confederate symbols at the neighboring Point Lookout Confederate Cemetery, which is federal property administered by the US Department of Veterans Affairs.
Descendants of Confederates were so outraged by the ban, they raised hundreds of thousands of dollars and bought the property next door in 2003. In the years since, the Descendants of Point Lookout POWS Organization has developed a flag court featuring a bronze statue of an unarmed southern POW, and an array of flags linked to the Confederacy. The centerpiece of the park is the Confederate battle flag flying from the tallest staff above the statue.
The 3-acre park is open to the public. Its sits near the busy entrance of the heavily visited Point Lookout State Park in stark contrast to the neighboring cemetery where only a US flag is flown over a mass grave with as many as 3000 Confederate POWs were buried.
Another Confederate battle flag is defiantly displayed on a pole on private property inches away from the federal cemetery boundary, where visitors can get a clear view.
Point Lookout was the location of a notorious Union prison camp during the Civil War. At least 50,000 Confederate prisoners endured starvation and disease. At least 3000 are buried in a mass grave marked by a tall obelisk in the federal cemetery. Confederate groups believe as many as 14,000 died there.
The US Veteran's Administration took over management of the cemetery in 1930.
“To have the presence of a Confederate flag, that’s all people are asking for,” John Stober, a local defense contractor and member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, told the County Times newspaper in 2008. “Nobody’s shoving it in people’s faces, but being remembered by a descendent you’ve never met, that says something.”