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Georgians Salute the Current Flag

March 03, 2004|From Associated Press

ATLANTA — Georgians overwhelmingly endorsed their current flag Tuesday in a referendum that drew little of the emotion that has dominated the state's flag debate in recent years.

Voters were asked to choose between the flag adopted last year under Republican Gov. Sonny Perdue and the one pushed in 2001 by then-Gov. Roy Barnes. Neither resembled the 1956 flag fiercely opposed by blacks for its prominent display of the Confederate battle emblem.

With light turnout reported statewide, the state's current flag trounced the 2001 version, 75% to 25%.

Many Georgia voters said they were tired of arguing over the flag, which figured heavily in the 2002 governor's race.

"Let's get this thing over with, put it to bed," said Jerry Deen, a car dealership owner in Albany.

Georgia's flag was dominated by the cross and stars of the Confederate battle emblem from 1956 until 2001, when Barnes signed a law retiring it. The Democrat's replacement, which included the 1956 flag in miniature with four other flags, caused so much outrage that it helped Perdue oust Barnes in 2002.

Perdue promised a referendum on the issue, but authorized yet another state flag last year, based on the former national flag of the Confederacy with two red stripes and one white, extending from a blue field.

The Legislature also decided to put the question on the ballot.

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