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Huge American Flag To Be Unveiled

June 11, 1999

GASTONIA, N.C. (AP) _ Seven years after a group of veterans set out to express their patriotism, the fruit of their labor is about to be hoisted up a huge flagpole and made visible for 30 miles.

What has been billed as the largest flying American flag in the world is due to be unfurled Saturday on Crowders Mountain.

The flag, 65 feet tall and 114 feet wide, is the culmination of efforts by AMVETS Post 920, which timed the unfurling to coincide with Flag Day on Monday.

``We’re trying to bring it home that the whole country needs to be repatriated,″ said Roy Curphey, a disabled Air Force veteran. ``It’s time to, if nothing else, stand down and look at our own values.″

The flag is not the biggest in the country. Two flags in California are bigger, according to the veterans, but are not flown.

The North Carolina flag is 7,410 square feet and weighs 180 pounds. Each stripe is 5 feet high; each star more than 4 feet across.

It’s a stirring sensation when the hoist button is pushed, and the huge flag is slowly drawn aloft by the motorized halyard, said Curphey.

``A little flag pops in the wind,″ he said. ``And when this one goes up, it’s not a `pop, snap.′ ... It’s just unreal the noise it makes. It just talks to you _ it’s awesome. It sounds like the whole place is making noise.″

The veterans have traveled the country raising money for the project. The money for the project was raised $5 and $10 at a time, mostly through donations from schoolchildren and other folk.

``Actually, the way we feel, it belongs to the people,″ said Jim Varian, an Army veteran and a Post 920 trustee.

Retired Army Maj. Gen. Patrick Brady, a Medal of Honor recipient and president of the Citizen’s Flag Alliance, was expected to attend the ceremony.

``It is the most important symbol we have, and unique among all the symbols of the world,″ he said. ``There’s only one flag that’s designed and dedicated to freedom and justice, and that’s the American flag.″

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