Saturday, May 10, 2008

This is "Confederate Memorial Day" in the Two Carolinas

Here, in the two Carolinas, today is a Special Day. This is Confederate Memorial Day.

On this day, we honor the "Soldiers of the South" who marched forth to defend their homeland from the invading Army from the North.

Some thoughts now on Confederate Memorial Day, how it came to be and why it is important to all citizens of the US, North and South.

From the May, 1893 issue of "Confederate Veteran," the Origin of Confederate Memorial Day:

It is a matter of history that Mrs. Chas. J. Williams, of Columbus, Ga., instituted the beautiful custom of decorating soldiers' graves with flowers, a custom which has been adopted throughout the United States. Mrs. Williams was the daughter of Maj. John Howard, of Milledgeville, Ga., and was a superior woman. She married Maj. C. J. Williams on his return from the Mexican War. As colonel of the First Georgia Regulars, of the Army in Virginia, he contracted disease, from which he died in 1862, and was buried in Columbus, Ga.

Mrs. Williams and her little girl visited his grave every day, and often comforted themselves by wreathing it with flowers. While the mother sat abstractly thinking of the loved and lost one, the little one would pluck the weeds from the unmarked soldiers' graves near her father's and cover them with flowers, calling them her soldiers' graves.

After a short time while the dear little girl was summoned by the angels to join her father. The sorely bereaved mother then took charge of these unknown graves for the child's sake, and as she cared for them thought of the thousands of patriot graves throughout the South, far away from home and kindred, and in this way the plan was suggested to her of setting apart one day in each year, that love might pay tribute to valor throughout the Southern States.

In March, 1868, she addressed a communication to the Columbus Times, an extract of which I give:

"We beg the assistance of the press and the ladies throughout the South to aid us in the effort to set apart a certain day to be observed from the Potomac to the Rio Grande, and to be handed down through time as a religious custom of the South, to wreathe the graves of our martyred dead with flowers, and we propose the 26th day of April as the day."

She then wrote to the Soldiers' Aid Societies in every Southern State, and they readily responded and reorganized under the name of Memorial Associations. She lived long enough to see her plan adopted all over the South, and in 1868 throughout the United States.

Mrs. Williams died April 15, 1874, and was buried with military honors. On each returning Memorial Day the Columbus military march around her grave, and each deposits a floral offering.

The Legislature of Georgia, in 1874, set apart the 26th day of April as a legal holiday in obedience to her request.

(In North and South Carolina Confederate Memorial Day is celebrated on May 10th. It is the day upon which General Thomas Jonathan "Stonewall" Jackson Died.)
"Honor Answering Honor"

Thoughts on Confederate Memorial Day
As we recall what took place during the War Between the States, we should do so in an attempt to gain a better understanding of the conflicting ideals and passions that pitted brother against brother and tore a nation apart.

The common soldiers and sailors of both sides should be respected for their courage and sacrifices, because they were all Americans.

After four years of conflict, Union Gen. Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain was charged with receiving Gen. Robert E. Lee's army when it came to lay down arms at Appomattox Court House in Virginia in April 1865.

As the Confederate soldiers approached, Gen. Chamberlain ordered the Federal army to "Present Arms" in honor of their foe, for whom they had gained much respect on many fields of battle.

Upon hearing the clamor of arms, Gen. John B. Gordon, riding at the head of Gen. Lee's army, whirled his horse around as he dropped the point of his sword to his boot toe, and ordered the Army of Northern Virginia to return the salute - honor answering honor!

Gen. Chamberlain stated of that moment, "On our part, not a sound of trumpet more, not a cheer, nor word, nor whisper of vain-glorying, nor motion of man standing again at the order; but an awed stillness rather, and breath-holding, as if it were the passing of the dead!"

Chamberlain went on to give special and respectful tribute to each unit of the Southern army, commenting on their dedication and bravery against overwhelming odds. These comments were not spoken by a Southerner, but by a Union general and college professor from Maine.

For the most part, soldiers on both sides of that terrible conflict, including thousands of African-Americans, Native Americans, and Hispanics in the Southern armies, served for the same reason Americans have served in all our country's wars - their country was at war, and it was their duty to serve.

We can all learn an important lesson from Gen. Chamberlain. Confederate Memorial Day can help remind us of where we were (142) years ago, and where we are today.

We should continue to move forward in our efforts to respect everyone's heritage, values, and beliefs regardless of their race, ethnic background or whatever area of our nation they come from. We can use the experience of our past to build a better future for our country.

Robert G. McLendon, Jr., CommanderMadison Starke Perry Camp 1424, Sons of Confederate VeteransGainesville, FL


Author Unknown

The marching armies of the past

Along our Southern plains,

Are sleeping now in quiet rest

Beneath the Southern rains.

The bugle call is now in vain

To rouse them from their bed;

To arms they'll never march again-- They are sleeping with the dead.

No more will Shiloh's plains be stained

With blood our heroes shed,

Nor Chancellorsville resound again

To our noble warriors' tread.

For them no more shall reveille

Sound at the break of dawn,

But may their sleep peaceful be

Till God's great judgment morn.

We bow our heads in solemn prayer

For those who wore the gray,

And clasp again their unseen hands

On our Memorial Day.

This is a day of solomn Remembrance in the two Carolinas. 40,000 North Carolinians gave their lives in service to their new country, the Confederate States of America. No better warrior has ever touched the dust of this planet.


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Frank said...

Have a great day as you remember sir......

Longstreet said...

Thank you, Frank! I really appreciate that!


Debbie said...

Congratulations and sympathy both on being blocked in some European countries. You're doing something right!

Debbie Hamilton
Right Truth

Wha Wadna Fecht for Charlie said...

“Insight on Freedom now banned / blocked in most of the nations of Europe.” My, you do work fast! Admittedly, it was France so I am not expecting you to feel too upset. No graphics in Holland, Germany or Estonia.
While in Holland I did see the following inscribed on a WWII grave, “In the great mosaic of victory, I lay this priceless jewel, my only son.” Rather apt on your Memorial Day.

Best Wishes.