A Tribute To The Confederate States Of America
Confederate Memorial Service Speech delivered April 27, 2013 at the Americus Georgia Annual Confederate Memorial Service hosted by Sons of Confederate Veterans Alexander H. Stevens Camp 78
It is entirely fitting, proper, and appropriate that we should gather here today to pay tribute to the Confederate veterans and to the Civilian population of the South who also contributed and sacrificed so much during the years of 1861-1865 and in the Reconstruction years that followed. Let us especially remember the women of the Old South who kept the home fires burning, the plantations and farms producing, and who cared for the children.
Let us not only remember the great Southern leaders and heroes which include Jefferson Davis, Alexander H. Stephens, Robert E. Lee, Thomas Jonathan "Stonewall" Jackson, and Nathan Bedford Forrest, but let us remember the lesser known officers and enlisted men who formed the backbone of the Army in Gray.
Let us remember on this Confederate Memorial day the Unknown Confederate Soldiers who sleep in lonely soldiers’ graves. Forgotten men who fought and died for the Flag that waved across our Southern land. Even though we know not their names and remember not their faces let us remember their deeds and their fight for Southern Rights. Let us remember the places where they fought for Constitutional Government, and Southern Independence. Places with names like Manassas, Fredricksburg, Chancellorsville, Vicksburg, Cold Harbor, The Wilderness, Sharpsburg, Murfreesboro, and Gettysburg.
The South has long suffered the stigma placed upon us by revisionist writers and orators. Today some school books, movies, television programs and newspaper articles falsely portray Southerners as rebels and traitors who fought to preserve slavery, misleading our children and millions of Americans who are ignorant in history. Most Southerners were in favor of gradual emancipation of slaves and slavery was already a dying institution prior to the war. But a small but radical and fanatical group of abolitionists in the North demanded instant abolition. In 1857 a renegade Southerner named Hinton Helper wrote a book titled “The Impending Crisis of the South”. It was a terrorist manifesto that declared that if the South failed to immediately free slaves a slave rebellion would be initiated that would result in the deaths of thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands of Southern men, women and children as had happened to white French residents of Santo Domingo in the 1790 era.
A resolution was passed by the Republican Party in support of terrorism against the South as outlined in the Helper book and 68 of 117 Republican Senators and Congressmen signed it. A massive slave rebellion endangered all Southerners not just slave owners which were less than 10% of the population. Then in 1859 terrorist and psychopath John Brown with financial support by New England radical and fanatical abolitionists tried to carry out the threats outlined in the Helper book. Thus it was the agitation over slavery and not the perpetuation of slavery that was one of the 10 causes of Southern secession. The victor of a war writes the history and dishonest Northern historians have claimed that the South fought to perpetuate slavery.
As Southerners, we should consider it our duty to our Confederate ancestors to defend their honor and remember the sacrifices made by the men and women of the Confederacy in their attempt to preserve the freedoms provided by the Constitution of the United States, and the Bill of Rights, which were written primarily by Southern gentlemen from Virginia.
Political lessons, however, are only one benefit of historical memory. History recalls deep and intimate sentiments of family, community and generations past. It calls forth the shared experiences of a people and reminds them of their traditions and customs. History instructs a people of their failings and discourages false pride but also reminds them of their finer moments, and encourages a proper self respect. Any people with contempt for their heritage have lost faith in themselves and no nation can long survive without pride in its traditions.
The Confederate Flag and the memory of the Confederate men and women and children who carried it is a fitting symbol and reminder that sacrifice and blood are often the price a people must pay to preserve limited government and self rule. Today, the Confederate flag and the memory of the sacrifices made by our Confederate ancestors speak a certain healthy defiance against the constraining regimens of corporate life and the bureaucratic state. No constitutional guarantee will preserve liberty if the people lack the spirit of independence.
The issue of centralized power versus States Rights was at the heart of the conflict, now referred to as "The War Between the States”, “War for Southern Independence”, The War of Northern Aggression or Civil War as it is most commonly called by Northerners.
Northern radicals, fanatics, zealots, and socialists poured torrents of verbal and written abuse and slander upon Southerners and committed criminal atrocities. This coupled with an unfair and unjust Northern tariff and major cultural and religious differences froze Southern attitudes into rigid defiance against Northern aggression and tyranny. The Northern radicals and fanatics joined into a coalition with New England economic interests and elected Abraham Lincoln president. The incendiary had joined hands with the robber and the South was their target. By 1860 and 1861 Southerners had concluded that only two choices were available to them.
1. Accept northern tyranny, despotism, and dictatorship, and its suppression of States Rights or,
2. Declare independence and dissolve Southern ties to the Union. The South refused to be ruled over by this radical and corrupt class of Northern politicians and President Abraham Lincoln who represented them. Thus the Southern states seceded and formed the Confederate States of America. They were promptly invaded just as the American colonies were in 1776 when they seceded from England.
What followed was an epic struggle in which Southerners outnumbered 3 to 1, and with most manufacturing facilities located in the North, fought with heroism and devotion rarely if ever matched in the chronicles of warfare. The Confederate States of America fell battling under the banner of States Rights, but grand and glorious even in defeat. Duty, Honor and Patriotism called the Confederate Veteran to defend, as best he could, his home and fireside, his family, his native land, the sacred Southern soil, against the invading armies of an aggressor nation.
The Confederate veteran died the death of a hero and we the people of the South, who love those brave and noble heroes, should forever cherish the memory of Southern men who fought and died for Constitutional Government, the Supremacy of our Laws over Centralization, and our rights as guaranteed to us by the blood of our forefathers on the battlefields of the American Revolution.
The graves of our brave Southern boys lie scattered over our beloved Southland, and some in far off Northern graves. They fought for their country and gave their lives for the cause of Southern Independence. They chose death before dishonor.
The Confederate Soldier fought hard battles against overwhelming numbers and endured many hardships while trying to protect their homes, families, their property, and their constitution and laws. They fought for the belief that each State is a separate Sovereign Government.
The brave and gallant men who marched to the drum and fife playing Dixie and Bonnie Blue Flag have all passed away. During this month of April which is Confederate History and Heritage Month Southern Patriots have placed the beloved Confederate Flag on Confederate graves and we may shed a tear in their memory; we live after them, we love their memory. We are forever grateful of the sacrifices they made.
We need never make any apologies for our brave noble Southern Heroes who fought against Northern Aggression, but we mourn the loss of so many gallant men who perished, with honor, on the field of battle.
Let us, their descendants, make them proud of us as they look down upon us from the Valhalla of Confederate Warriors.
The history and heritage of the Confederacy is like a flickering flame which must be guarded and protected. We must encourage our young people to pick up the torch and carry it forward into the future. We cannot allow prejudice and misinformation to engulf this flame. We must preserve our history and heritage for future generations.
As long as Southern Patriots live, the story of the honor, bravery and valor of the Confederate Soldier must be passed from generation to generation.
Let us always pay tribute to the Confederate Veteran. Long live their Memory- Long live the South- May we Never Forget.
James W. King
Commander-Sons of Confederate Veterans
Camp 141 Lt. Col. Thomas M. Nelson