Reflecting on Sacrifice in the South
Attrition has thinned their ranks; political correctness has caused a decline in public support, but still they gather each year to remember those who came before them.
Slightly more than two dozen people turned out for Monday’s Confederate Memorial Day observance in Prattville, a ceremony that lasted about 20 minutes. The annual event, sponsored by Camp 1524 of Sons of Confederate Veterans, was held to pay tribute to the local men and those from elsewhere who fought for the Confederate States of America in the war of 1861-65.
The Rev. Tom Snowden, who serves as chaplain for the local SCV camp, mentioned during his invocation the misinformation and historical inaccuracies that have been handed down by those who portray the war as a general rebellion by residents of the South against the federal government over the issue of slavery.
“I pray we’ll all remember these were men who accepted the call for country and their South, time and time again, yet with faith enduring,” Snowden said. “Help us, Lord, to continue to strive for the truth surrounding the war. As time marches on, it seems people become further removed from the memory of it. I pray that we can keep the flame of interest burning.”
As the time approached to begin the ceremony, those in attendance were treated to recorded versions of several songs that arose from the Civil War-era, including “The Prattville Light Dragoons March.” Most chatted with friends and acquaintances; a few waved miniature Confederate flags as the ceremony continued.
Stuart Waldo, commander of the local heritage group, said the crowd, though not huge, was impressive. He pointed out that this year marked the sesquicentennial of the year in which came the war’s turning point, when Confederate losses at Gettysburg and Vicksburg became too much for the South’s bedraggled army to overcome.
“We had a good turnout for the Confederate Memorial Day program here in downtown Prattville,” the SCV commander said.”We had maybe about 30 people, but I really would like to have more public participation. It’s the sesquicentennial of the War Between the States. It was 150 years ago that Gettysburg and some other things happened that caused the Southern cause’s fortunes to sag. But we’re here to remember the Confederate soldiers from Prattville, from throughout the South and from across the United States who fought for their homeland.”
He said he hoped the world was beginning to wake up to the real facts behind the bloody conflict, which divided families and filled graves throughout the country.
“The Southern cause was decimated by horrendous Vicksburg and Gettysburg campaigns,” he reiterated. “But 150 years later, today, we can signal the beginning of a resurgence in the public appreciation for the valor and history of the Confederate soldiers and the principals they treasured and that motivated them to create a true Constitutional republic, embracing individual and states’ rights, liberty and responsibility.”
Kim Seago of Autauga County, whose CSA ancestor is buried in the Booth community, said she would continue to take part in the annual observance, an event she said was important in telling the real story behind the War Between the States.
“I think it’s very important to remember Confederate Memorial Day, especially for our children,” said Seago, who wore a jacket fashioned from the Stars and Bars of the Confederacy. “We need to keep it alive so our children will know the real story behind this flag.”
Harold Grooms, one of the local camp’s lieutenant commanders, presented a brief history of Confederate Memorial Day, then he and fellow lieutenant commander Chris Booth placed a wreath at the base of the first Confederate monument placed at the corner of Washington and Fourth streets. A recorded version of “Taps” followed.
Waldo then summed up the reason for the annual observance, “This is a somewhat solemn commemoration of sacrifices these Dragoons and many other brave soldiers made, some of whom left to fight this bloody war and never returned to their homes and families,” he said. “These patriots laid down their lives for a cause embodied posthumously by our Alabama state motto, ‘We dare defend our rights.’ These same inalienable rights and those of our sovereign home state are important to consider today. The SCV embodies the spirit these brave men and women carried into battle.”
The group, which earlier had placed miniature flags on the graves of Confederate veterans across the county, and those who came to witness the event then joined voices for a rousing rendition of “Dixie,” which marked the traditional end of the program.