UPDATE on March 25, 9:24 p.m. EDT: The events were small, but the symbolism was large. Artists and locals in several southern states gathered Monday for a simultaneous symbolic “burial” of the U.S. Confederate flag on Memorial Day to raise awareness of the controversial symbolism of the banner -- and why they think desecrating and burying it should become an annual tradition.

Original story begins here:

Few symbols are more controversial in modern American culture than the Confederate Flag. Many whites, especially in the American South, view Southern Gen. Robert E. Lee’s Civil War banner as a modern symbol of states’ rights against an overbearing central government. To African-Americans and many others, however, the flag is a harsh reminder that those rights once extended to white people owning and profiting from the labor of black slaves.

The war that nearly tore the nation apart might have ended exactly 150 years ago on May 9, but today the “stars and bars” symbol adorns vehicle license plates, biker jackets, homes and the Mississippi state flag. On Memorial Day, Sarasota, Florida, artist John Sims wants to bury the symbol once and for all—at least symbolically.

"We are in America, and people have the right to fly whatever flag [they want]," Sims told the Los Angeles Times on Wednesday. "And I have the right to bury whatever flag, and to burn whatever flag."

Sims and Julian Chambliss, chair of the department of history and coordinator of the Africa & African-American Studies program at Rollins College, are coordinating on Monday Confederate Flag burnings in the 11 states of the Civil War’s southern Confederacy as well as in Missouri and Kentucky.

Sims and Chambliss will attend the event at Orlando’s Greenwood Urban Wetlands, where the flag will be “cremated” and have its ashes scattered into a pond following a performance of a new version of the song “I Wish I Was in Dixie,” the unofficial anthem of the Confederate States of America during the Civil War.

Some have criticized Sims’ use of Memorial Day for the event. The federal holiday honoring America’s war dead doesn’t fit the theme, they say.

"Memorial Day?" John Adams said to WKMG Local 6 on Thursday. "That's a day for the soldiers. Respect that day and let our boys who gave their lives rest in peace." Adams, a member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, says nine of his relatives fought in the Confederacy during the Civil War.

Sims has been playing with Confederate Flag imagery for more than a decade, including one installation where he changed the red, white and blue of the Dixie flag to red, black and green, the colors associated with black-liberation movements.