CIVIL WAR OP-ED: Confederate Memorial Day in the South

By Calvin E. Johnson Jr.

Tennessee Senator Edward Ward Carmack said it best in 1903:

“The Confederate Soldiers were our kinfolk and our heroes. We testify to the country our enduring fidelity to their memory. We commemorate their valor and devotion. There were some things that were not surrendered at Appomattox. We did not surrender our rights and history; nor was it one of the conditions of surrender that unfriendly lips should be suffered to tell the story of that war or that unfriendly hands should write the epitaphs of the Confederate dead. We have the right to teach our children the true history of the war, the causes that led up to it and the principles involved.”

Southerners continue to remember the men and women of the Old Confederacy throughout the year but Confederate Memorial Day is even more special to us when old times are not forgotten.

The Confederate Constitution that will be on display on Friday, April 24, 2015 from 8:00 am to 5: 00 pm at the Richard B. Russell Building Special Collections Libraries at the University of Georgia.

The only surviving copy of the permanent Constitution of the Confederate States of America will be displayed. Due to the fragility of the document, it is displayed annually for one day. Read more at:

Confederate Memorial Day was once a special time when businesses and schools closed in observance of Confederate Memorial Day. It was a day when many thousands of people would congregate at the Confederate cemetery for the day’s events that included: a parade, memorial speeches, military salute and children laying flowers on the soldiers’ graves. The band played “Dixie” and the soldier played taps.
Memorial Day in America was first held as “Decorations Day” in the South in honor of both the soldiers of Confederate gray and Union blue.

Some folks call the War Between the States, 1861-1865, a lost cause but stories of the heroic—brave men and women who stood for Southern Independence are still cherished in the hearts and souls of many people throughout the South.

Sunday, April 26th is Confederate Memorial Day in Georgia and the State of Georgia will officially recognize this sacred day on Monday the 28th.

Confederate Memorial Day has been a legal holiday in Georgia since 1874 by an act of the Georgia General Assembly and bill signed by then Governor James Smith, who also served as Confederate Colonel, Lawyer and Congressman.

Some say one of the first Confederate Memorial Days took place in Columbus, Mississippi, on April 25, 1866. Today, it is held on April 26th in some states and May and June in others. For over 100 years the Sons of Confederate Veterans, the United Daughters of the Confederacy and the Ladies Memorial Association have kept the memory of the Confederate soldier eternal.

Southern newspapers once reported Confederate soldiers marching in Confederate Memorial Day parades and sounding off with a husky Rebel Yell of “Yip, yip, yip” that turned the tides of many battles.
Today, those of little knowledge about those men of gray attack the Confederate flag that was bravely carried in many battles…And they want the Confederate flag removed from the Confederate statue at the State Capitol in Columbia, South Carolina. When the soldiers of Blue and Gray walked the earth, few criticized these men.

Did you know that Black Confederate soldiers are buried at a historic Black College for men in Atlanta, Georgia?

April is Confederate History and Heritage Month. Read more on face book at:

Johnson is a  speaker, 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.

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