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Jim Cole, File, Associated Press
FILE - In this Wednesday Oct. 21, 2015 file photo, a fourth-grade student visiting the statehouse looks at some of the historic battle flags kept behind glass in Concord, N.H. Many of the flags are tattered and beginning to disintegrate, sparking an effort to properly preserve them for centuries to come.

CONCORD, N.H. — More than 80 Civil War flags, some tattered, some stained in blood and ripped by bullet holes, capture the attention of visitors to New Hampshire's State House.

Men once carried the flags as they marched into battle. Years later, the banners made up the Hall of Flags at the state Capitol's front entrance.

Now stored in glass cases, the 88 flags are at the heart of a preservation debate.

If left as they are, how long will they last? Statehouses and museums nationwide grapple with similar questions as they seek to preserve historical relics.

Maine moved flags from its Capitol to the state museum years ago, placing the flags on special panels for preservation. Rhode Island is now exploring flag preservation and Connecticut recently completed a project.