CIVIL WAR OP-ED: Old times Not Forgotten During Confederate History Month

By Calvin E. Johnson Jr.

April 20th is Easter and the world remembers Jesus Christ our Savior, and….

April is also the time for enjoying hot dogs, baseball and remembering the sons and daughters of the South during Confederate History and Heritage Month.

Black Southern Veterans
Black Southern Veterans

If you have not visited Stone Mountain Park near Atlanta, Georgia and seen the beautiful Confederate Memorial carving of Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson you should plan a visit for your family. Make your plans to attend the Annual National Confederate Memorial Day observance on Saturday, April 12, 2014 at 1 PM in front of the magnificent carving. Read more on face book at: https://www.facebook.com/events/467817253329352/

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.

The War Between the States “1861-1865” claimed the lives of hundreds of thousands of brothers, husbands and sons. Though enemies on the battlefield, after the war, the men of Yankee blue and Confederate gray sponsored reunions at such places as Gettysburg. The soldiers told war stories while the United States and Confederate flags flew briskly in the warm summer breeze. 

After 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. Confederate graves were also cared for in the North and Union graves in the South. 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. Other Southern States recognize this day, which began as Decoration Day, on May 10th and June 3rd.

Efforts to mark Confederate graves, erect monuments and hold memorial services was 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 unkept 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. 

Those who served the Confederacy came from many races and religions. There was Irish born General Patrick R. Cleburne, black Southerner Amos Rucker, Jewish born Judah P. Benjamin, Mexican born Colonel Santos Benavides, American Indian General Stand Watie who was born in Rome, Georgia and Scottish born Confederate nurse Kate Cumming.

April is Confederate History and Heritage Month. Read more on face book at: https://www.facebook.com/ConfederateHeritageMonth

Calvin Johnson Jr.
Calvin Johnson Jr.

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 Johnson, from Kennesaw, GA, near Atlanta,  is a speaker, HNN contributor, writer of short stories, suthor 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

 

  

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