Friday, April 05, 2013

Palestine dedication for plaza honoring Confederates set for April 13

A newly constructed plaza to honor Confederate soldiers from Anderson County and tell the history of the Confederacy will be dedicated April 13 in downtown Palestine.

As many as 400 re-enactors, a band, a horse cavalry and a mechanized cavalry are expected for the event. A parade will start at 10 a.m. at the Anderson County Courthouse and wind its way tover o the plaza, where the dedication ceremony will begin at 11 a.m.

The Confederate Veterans Memorial Plaza sits on about two-tenths of an acre bordered by Oak, North Jackson and Main streets.

It is a project of John H. Reagan Camp 2156 Sons of Confederate Veterans.

“We are going to have a park to honor Confederate soldiers from Anderson County who went off to war and tell their story so that it will be a remaining legacy years after we are all gone,” Gary Williams, camp historian, said.

“It’s basically history to keep the memory from being swept like the wind and wiping it clean and forgotten. It’s just a way of presenting some of the Civil War history of Anderson County to folks. We hope the community will enjoy it.”

Members of the Sons of Confederate Veterans spent many hours at the library and on the Internet gathering the information.

The plaza has flagpoles near the center, a brick back wall, intersecting sidewalks with monuments and an arch over the main entrance.

One marker will list 11 Confederate units from Anderson County — eight cavalry and three infantry.

“We will have a lot of information about the units and some individuals from here who were merchants, lawyers, judges and a newspaperman,” Williams said.

At the ends of sidewalks through the plaza will be granite monuments. Etched in the monuments will be statements of Confederate leaders, such as Jefferson Davis.

Two Texas historical markers from the Texas Historical Commission also will be erected in the plaza. One will give historical information about John H. Reagan, the Palestine resident who served as secretary of the treasury for the Confederacy, and the other marker will give information about Anderson County and the Civil War.

Another marker will display the charge or mission statement of the John H. Reagan camp.

On the back wall as the Sons of Confederate Veterans can afford to add them will eventually be interpretive plaques providing narrative information about each of the Confederate units from Anderson County and some of the men that served in the units, Williams said.

Flying from flagpoles in the plaza will be the Texas flag surrounded by national flags used at different times by the Confederacy and the battle flag, also known as the soldier’s flag.

Brick pavers in the sidewalks donated by individuals and groups will honor Confederate soldiers, some of them Hispanic, some blacks and some Asian, said Doug Smith, adjutant/treasurer of the John H. Reagan Camp.

“We are also going to tell about some of the men that returned after the war. Most of these men were pillars of the community, and they brought Palestine through the Reconstruction,” Williams said. “Two Confederate veterans brokered a deal to bring the International Great Northern Railroad here, which gave this town a big economic and population boom.”

Williams and Smith say the town needs to know that the first five out of the first nine mayors of Palestine were Confederate veterans and that it was primarily Confederate veterans who got the town up on its feet again and thriving after Reconstruction.

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