HARTLAND, Minn. (AP) — A Minnesota firefighter is defending his decision to fly a Confederate flag during a holiday parade.

The Albert Lea Tribune reports Brian Nielsen drove a fire truck in the Third of July Parade in Hartland, northwest of Albert Lea in south-central Minnesota. Nielsen, who's been with the department for about 10 years, flew both the Confederate and American flags from the back of the truck.

Nielsen says he's not for slavery, but objects to efforts to suppress a historic symbol.

The killings at a South Carolina church last month have sparked debate nationwide about the appropriateness of displaying the Confederate flag.

Nielsen says he wasn't looking for attention and didn't think flying the flag would spur as much discussion as it has in the community and on social media.