State officials took down Confederate flags at two historic sites today after Democratic presidential hopeful Richard A. Gephardt said they shouldn't be flown anywhere.

Confederate battle flags were removed at the Confederate Memorial Historic Site and the Fort Davidson Historic Site, said Sue Holst, spokeswoman for the Missouri Department of Natural Resources. The flags will still be displayed inside the sites' visitor centers.

Over the weekend, Gephardt said: "My own personal feeling is that the Confederate flag no longer has a place flying any time, anywhere in our great nation."

Mary Still, spokeswoman for Gov. Bob Holden (D), said she called Natural Resources Director Steve Mahfood after reading a news report about Gephardt's statement.

"I told Steve it seemed to me it wouldn't be appropriate to have it flying on a flagpole, but that I didn't know all of their considerations, and I left it in his lap," Still said. The Missouri leader of a Confederate heritage organization said politicians were trying to erase state history.

"They take our tax money and then they turn around and try to destroy our heritage," said Gene Dressel, state commander of Sons of Confederate Veterans.

In Atlanta, about 300 people marched to the Capitol, demanding a statewide vote on bringing back the Georgia flag with its big Confederate emblem.

The current flag, featuring a tiny image of the Confederate emblem, was adopted in 2001 at the behest of Democratic Gov. Roy Barnes.

Barnes's successor, Republican Sonny Perdue, criticized Barnes for changing the flag without public input. Today, he said he supports a nonbinding public referendum.

Gephardt waded into the flag controversy last weekend. He said the flag flying at the Confederate Soldier Monument near South Carolina's Statehouse "is a hurtful, divisive symbol and in my view has no place flying anywhere, in any state in this country."