Confederate heritage alive in Thornrose

May 26, 2013

STAUNTON — On July 9, 1861, the first Confederate soldier was buried in Staunton’s Thornrose Cemetery.

D.C. Luray part of the 3rd Arkansas Infantry was fatally struck by a train at the Staunton Depot station as he prepared to leave.

Luray is one of 1,777 Confederate soldiers buried in the cemetery — all but five are non-Virginians.

“Here we see the enormous and incomprehensible cost of war,” Elizabeth Spencer, part of the J.E.B. Stuart Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy and coordinator of the memorial service at the Confederate Monument held Sunday.

The service has been held since 1994, and Spencer said it’s part of preserving history and heritage.

About 100 people gathered for the event that featured period music by The Shenandoah Valley Minstrels, appearances by Confederate regiments of re-enactors and the Valley Pike Fife and Drum Corps, memorial music performed on bagpipe and living-history portrayals of Gens. Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson.

“This is where most of the major battles in the Eastern Theater took place —here in Virginia. I have all these ancestors who were Confederate soldiers,” she said. “Some of them were killed in action and were buried where they fell, and I just like them to be remembered and honored the way we do all our soldiers.”

Judy Lust came to the service clutching a document.

She recently found out her sister-in-law was a daughter of the Confederacy. She was in search of someone to authenticate her certificate.

“It gives me the opportunity to get to know her a little better and appreciate her heritage,” Lust said.

John J. Fox, Confederate historian and author, spoke during the service.

Thornrose holds a special place in his heart — his great-great-grandfather is buried right down the hill from where he was standing.

“This place is the last and permanent encampment for these soldiers,” Fox said. “Many wouldn’t see their loved ones again in their life.”

Sam Burns who grew up in Buffalo Gap has been re-enacting for 23 years.

Holding a sergeant-major’s rank in the 1st division Staunton Artillery, he says he does it to honor his ancestors.

“It’s my heritage. I had a lot of relatives in the Civil War, and it’s just my heritage and history. A lot of people don’t even know anything about the Civil War,” Burns said.

He said that many children these days have lost the history of what happened during the Civil War.

“Honor veterans, not only the Civil War, but all of the wars. If it wasn’t for them, we wouldn’t be doing this now,” he said.

“It’s an honor to know that my relatives fought for what they believed in.”

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