Monday, March 23, 2009
April is also Confederate History Month
By Calvin E. Johnson, Jr.
Chairman of the National and Georgia Division, Sons of Confederate Veterans, Confederate History Month Committee—www.scv.org
“A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots.”—Marcus Garvey
On Thursday, March 12, 2009, the Georgia State Senate passed bill No. 27, by a vote of 48-2, designating April as Confederate Heritage and History Month. I understand that it has now been voted out of committee for a full House vote. Supporters of this bill say, “The measure would be a boom to the state’s tourism industry, encouraging visitors to come to Georgia’s Civil War Battlefield sites.”
Read information on the bill at http://www.legis.state.ga.us/legis/2009_10/sum/sb27.htm
The diversity of the Old South still holds the imagination of many people who come from around the world to see; Southern Belle’s with hoop skirts, Confederate flags and soldier memorials like the Confederate Memorial carving of: Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson and Jefferson Davis at Stone Mountain Memorial Park near Atlanta.
This story is written in the spirit of the Sesquicentennial, 150th Anniversary of the War Between the States, which will be commemorated throughout the USA from 2011 to 2015.
Americans observe Black, Jewish, Hispanic, Native American and Women’s History Month…..And in April we also remember ‘Confederate History Month’ in tribute to those Americans who took their stand for what some historians call the ‘Second American Revolution.’
April is an important month in America’s history. 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. The month of April has become to be known as Confederate History and Heritage Month when proclamations will be signed by Governors, Commissioners and Mayors.
The Congress of the United States has officially in past years recognized America’s war, of 1861 to 1865, as the War Between the States. This tragic war claimed the lives of hundreds of thousands of brothers, uncles and husbands. Though they were enemies on the battlefield, after the war, the men of blue and gray sponsored reunions at such places as Gettysburg. The soldier told war stories while the United States and Confederate flags flew briskly in the warm summer breeze.
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 church hymn book once included "Onward Christian Soldiers." 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. 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, which is the birthday of Confederate President Jefferson Davis.
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 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.
Among the gallant women of the Confederacy was Captain Sally Tomkins, CSA who was the only woman to be commissioned on either side of the War Between the States. Commissioned by Jefferson Davis, she took care of thousands of soldiers in Richmond, Virginia until the end of the war.
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, Cherokee American Indian General Stand Watie- the highest ranking officer on either side, and Major Gen. Camille Armand Jules Marie, Prince de Polignac born in France.
Sir Winston Churchill said that the Confederate Army’s fight against overwhelming odds is one of the most glorious moments in Anglo-Saxon history.
Lest We Forget!!