CIVIL WAR OP-ED: Old Times are not forgotten in the South

By Calvin E. Johnson Jr.
A black Confederate soldier
A black Confederate soldier

Some folks call the Confederate flag and United States flag racist. Sir Winston Churchill said it best when he said: “The flags of the Confederate States of America were very important and a matter of great pride to those citizens living in the Confederacy. They are also a matter of great pride for their descendants as part of their heritage and history.”

Come all and bring your family and friends to learn a little Southern history at the 14th Annual National Confederate Memorial Day Service to be held at Stone Mountain Park on, near Atlanta, on Saturday April 11, 2015 at 1 PM in front of the Carving Reflection Pool. The event is Hosted by The Georgia Society Military Order of the Stars & Bars. The guest speaker will be: Mr. Michael Shaffer, President of the Civil Round Table of Cobb County and member Friends of Camp McDonald. For additional information contact:

Mr. David Denard 706-678-7720 or denardodian@bellsouth.net
 
The Georgia General Assembly in 2009 officially and permanently designated the month of April as Confederate History and Heritage Month of every year.

April, Confederate History and Heritage Month, is significant as it is the month the War Between the States began (1861) and ended (1865)., and The Great Locomotive Chase, where Union spies attempted to steal the Confederate Locomotive "The General" and destroy rail lines and bridges, took place on April 12, 1862.

Why do some schools ignore the teaching of American history? Boys and girls once learned about American soldiers who for over 200 years marched off to war. The young people read about: George Washington, Robert E. Lee and Booker T. Washington. Northern and Southern children stood up proudly to sing patriotic songs from a standard song book that included "Dixie."

After the end of the War Between the States, Northern and Southern women formed memorial organizations. They made sure all soldiers were given a Christian burial and a marked grave. Memorial Days were begun in many states North and South of the famous Mason-Dixon Line. Great monuments were also erected that still cast a giant shadow over many town squares and soldiers' cemeteries across the U.S.A.

April 26, has become to be recognized as Confederate Memorial Day in many states. For over one hundred years the Ladies' Memorial Association, United Daughters of the Confederacy and Sons of Confederate Veterans have held memorial services on or near this day.

Efforts to mark Confederate graves, erect monuments and hold memorial services were the idea of Mrs. Charles J. Williams. It is written that she was an educated and kind lady. Her husband served as Colonel of the 1st Georgia Regiment during the war. He died of disease in 1862, and was buried in his home town of Columbus, Georgia.

Mrs. Williams and her daughter visited his grave often and cleared the weeds, leaves and twigs from it, then placed flowers on it. Her daughter also pulled the weeds from other Confederate graves near her Father.

It saddened the little girl that their graves were unmarked. With tears of pride she said to her Mother, "These are my soldiers' graves." The daughter soon became ill and passed away in her childhood. Mrs. William's grief was almost unbearable.

On a visit to the graves of her husband and daughter, Mrs. Williams looked at the unkempt soldiers' graves and remembered her daughter as she cleaned the graves and what the little girl had said. She knew what had to do.

Mrs. Williams wrote a letter that was published in Southern newspapers asking the women of the South for their help. She asked that memorial organizations be established to take care of the thousands of Confederate graves from the Potomac River to the Rio Grande. She also asked the state legislatures to set aside a day in April to remember the men who wore the gray. With her leadership April 26 was officially adopted in many states. She died in 1874, but not before her native state of Georgia adopted it as a legal holiday. It is still officially recognized in Georgia today.

Mrs. Williams was given a full military funeral by the people of Columbus, Georgia and flowers covered her grave. For many years a yearly memorial was conducted at her grave following the soldiers' memorial.

Follow the many Confederate History Month events during April and throughout the year on face book at: http://www.facebook.com/ConfederateHeritageMonth

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Johnson is a writer of short stories, author of book “When America stood for God, Family and Country” and Chairman of the National and Georgia Division Sons of Confederate Veterans Confederate History and Heritage Month committee. http://www.facebook.com/ConfederateHeritageMonth

Contact him at 1064 West Mill Drive, Kennesaw, Georgia 30152, Phone 770 330 9792 or 770 428 0978
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