The Friday morning session at the Murfressboro SCV Reunion began with Past Commander in Chief Chuck McMichael promoting Sesquicentennial events. The last event was in Richmond in February to commemorate the establishment of the Jefferson Davis and Confederate government there 150 years ago. CiC Givens was in attendance, a plane carrying an SCV banner flew overhead and the SCV event elicited a couple of protesters but, there was not enough participation especially considering its special Sesquicentennial timing. Next year, on March 16th 2013 at Beauvoir, the National Confederate Heritage Rally will be held to dedicate the new Jefferson Davis Library - check confederate150.com for information.
Allen Palmer was next up and provided information regarding next year's 2013 SCV Reunion in Vicksburg. The host hotels, Hampton Inn and the adjacent Quality Inn are now accepting reservations. A tentative schedule has been established including a special presentation on Thursday night of a theatre drama. These hotels are seven minutes to the convention center and shuttles will be provided. Interestingly, the new first term black mayor of Vicksburg wrote a nice letter to the SCV GEC welcoming the SCV to Vicksburg for the 2013 convention selection and the manager of the host hotel who was also black, told the Vicksburg committee to convey to everyone in Murfreesboro to "bring their flags" next year to Vicksburg. Other events will include guided tours of the battlefield.
Brad Bowling spoke about the Stephen D. Lee Institute (http://www.stephendillleeinstitute.com/) and the outstanding lecture series. Next year in February 2013 at the Renaissance World Golf Center in St. Augustine FL, a lecture on Slavery and Emancipation entitled "Emancipation Hell" will be provided. Cost will be $125/pp and includes all events including Friday reception, six speakers, breakfast lunch and dinner. Scholarships are available for students and teachers.
JM next spoke about the Sam Davis Youth Camps, telling everyone that CiC Givens enjoyed sharing a cabin with the 16 year old campers. He introduced Doug Stephens from Fayetteville NC who may have been the highlight speaker of the convention, receiving multiple standing ovations. Doug recently "graduated" from the Camp having attended every year since he was 12 years old. He stated we are in a war of ideas and culture. The generations that will come after us have been denied their heritage by the Internet, television and by their fathers. Political correctness in mainstream and social media is denying our youth truth in history and their identity. He said, "The South is not a place, it is a people - it will not mean a thing how clean we keep our cemeteries" if we lose the foundation of our heritage. Gen. Clayburne's nightmare has become the reality where teachers are spreading false or ignorant history. "Only those who fight for the Cause will be vindicated." Today's kids are taught or indoctrinated that the Battle Flag is a symbol of hate when it is appropriately a symbol of resistance to tyranny. J returned to conclude saying that the campers enjoy swimming and boating and archery and sip line activities in the afternoons but enjoy speakers and lectures in the mornings to provide them valuable historical truths and information. They learn the words to Dixie. Each evening concludes with a dance, the only time boys are permitted to touch girls and these events are used to teach traditional Southern manners and to treat ladies as such. Each camp should set as a goal to sponsor a child to attend a camp each year.
The 2014 Convention will be held in Charleston with the host hotel, the Embassy Suites with an attached convention center. scv2014.org is the website. A Palmetto package is available for the first 200 registrants.
Chief of Heritage Defense Dr. Tom Hiter started his speech with Shakespeare, "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times" as applicable to the short existence of the Confederate States of America and the War for Southern Independence. For every man who dies in combat, 6 or more died from disease. Everyday war and death surrounded them but they could walk outside and exclaim, "Thank God I am free!" Not true today. The SCV Kentucky Division Commander was arrested for flying a Battle Flag in his hotel room window - he was cleared of the charges but passed away while awaiting trial on his suit against the hotel. His passing represented a lost opportunity to set case law precedence for the 1st Amendment right to free speech and expression and private property rights. But highlights included a new Battle Flag erected along I-24 to greet all the southbound Yankees. SCV interest and membership has increased due to the publicity surrounding this flag. At the University of Nebraska, a student attempted to honor Confederate veterans by carrying a Confederate Battle Flag in a campus parade and was allegedly disciplined by the university and his fraternity; the University responded to an SCV letter of inquiry saying they had not done any such thing - more national publicity nonetheless. His last column in the Confederate Veteran magazine requested submittals of stories of 1000 words or less telling of the sacrifices our Confederate ancestors made; these will be compiled into a book for publication. Dr. Hiter will be leaving his position after his two year term but left the group with the reminder, "Our heritage is the most important thing we have and our heritage includes the Confederate soldier and we must ensure it carries on."
Army Reports were then provided. Danny Palmer of the Trans-Mississippi conveyed that his family heritage was passed on by his mother and grandmother and reflected in the names of their children which included Robert E. Lee Pitts, Albert Sidney Johnston Pitts etc. The Army of Trans-Mississippi represents 29% of the Confederation. Nine of the sixteen Divisions submitting reports were from the ATM. Danny found three cousins since and while attending the SCV conventions as evidence, "We are not a Band of Brothers, we are a Bond of Brothers. We have common ancestors. It is in the blood. My Grandchildren know about my Confederate ancestors - I've done my duty. We all have a cross to bear in life; my cross is a Southern cross and I will bear it proudly."
Army of Tennessee Commander Tom Strain next provided his report followed by Army of Northern Virginia Commander Frank Burgess. Virginia was the primary theatre of the War for Southern Independence with most of the battles fought there and continues to be today - the graves of Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson are in Lexington VA but the local citizenry is unaware of their heritage. He reminded everyone that the Pennsylvania SUV Culp Camp is holding a monument dedication in Gettysburg in 2013 about the same time as the 2013 SCV Vicksburg Reunion. The world will be watching and we need to ensure they watch Vicksburg as well as Gettysburg.
Dr. Hiter addressed the convention again indicating the Camp Handbook would be updated as it is in need with an original publication date of 1906. Each Division needs to report how they plan to attain the goals of Vision 2016 including naming a Vision 2016 coordinator. Dr. Hiter went on, "We must become the experts." When local media need information about the War, they should seek out the SCV camp and members but most don't know the SCV exists. Dr. Hiter was contacted about the girl in Tennessee who wanted to wear a Confederate Battle Flag to her school prom. But, he proclaimed, he was on nationwide television but it was in Canada. Despite nationwide coverage of that issue, the SCV HQ was not contacted for comment. The SCV needs a list of experts, speakers for various areas of expertise. Contact AL Div Commander Gary Carlyle or Tom Hiter for nominations.
Lt. Commander Kelly Barrow gave thanks that in addition to church, there is another organization he wants his family involved with, the SCV. He said, "The hope of the United States is the South and the hope of the South if the SCV. Our hope is the young people. We have hope in Jesus Christ. We also have hope that the SCV carries on proclaiming truth and carrying the cross of St. Andrew. Everyone here will make sure we won't go away." Successful initiatives include the Outdoor Action Pack, Celebrate History included with magazine subscription renewal notices for 3/4 million people. This thrust resulted in SCV HQ being swamped with requests for information. The 1-800-MYSOUTH (and SCV.org) websites have resulted in a doubling of applications for the SCV thru this year. Ancestry.com extends an SCV discount and the SCV gets a percentage of proceeds from these memberships, $3000 so far received. Leadership training is accelerating with leadership workshops around the country and the on-line Leadership Institute for commanders and adjutants. Lt. Barrow traveled 19000 highway miles in the past year to events and workshops around the country. 318 former SCV members were reinstated directly attributed to the letter sent to them from SCV HQ. Membership has increased 1.7% with 485 new members. We must combat the anti-Confederate voices by telling the truth but also by recruiting new members and meeting the Vision 2016 goals. "I have sacrificed much for the Confederacy," said Jefferson Davis. "What have you sacrificed for the Cause? May God Save the South!"
CiC Michael Givens lamented that we had no Real Sons in attendance and we're losing them quickly with only 19 remaining. Givens expressed thanks to the Real Sons, Real Grandsons and everyone in all the SCV camps. He elicited a standing ovation for Ben Sewell recognizing that Ben and his staff of five run an organization of 30000 people. He thanked all those on the GEC saying they were a fine group of men. He cited the incident in Reidsville NC as a travesty that an existing monument to the Confederate soldiers was relocated when an accident caused it to be toppled and provided an excuse to remove it for repairs. The Florida and Texas Divisions continue to battle to get their SCV license plates because the legislatures in those states perceive the Battle Flag to be evil and divisive. A march to VMI from Stonewall Jackson's grave was attended by only five VMI cadets. "What is going on?? The evil men do lasts while the good men do often is interred with their bones."