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An Open Report / Confederate Memorial Day

Memorial is defined by Webster as something serving to preserve or keep remembrance alive. Confederate is define by Webster as an alliance or uniting. The month of April in the Southland of America marks the observance of Confederate Heritage, and soon after in the month of May celebrations of Confederate Memorial Day began. These two months mark a period when the honorable people of the South came together to defend their homeland from an unconstitutional invasion steer headed by a President who would be later martyred by the victors who would write the history of the events that led up to his death instead of the actual crimes that he and the men whom he commanded committed against the Southern people. It was the perspicacity ( acuteness of mental vision or discernment) of Southern women that led to these celebrations. Having witnessed the success of the scandalmonger Harriet Beecher Stowe’s novel; they knew that the true history of the Southern people, the causes that warranted their actions would be forever tainted if left to the northern revisionist historians or northern academicians sent to the South to teach in the newly established public school system instituted by the federal government with the expressed charge of inculcating into the thinking processes of a nation the evils and rebellious nature of the Southern people and its own virtuosity.

On February 18, 1861, the Honorable President Jefferson Davis would give his Inaugural Address on the then Capitol steps of Montgomery, Alabama. Some 87 years later in city of Asheville, North Carolina, on February 18, 1948, I would be born to the Honorable Reverend Roland and Anna Belle Edgerton. Never in my wildest imagination would I ever have believe that as the son of former slaves that I would be given the honor not once but on several occasions; to give the keynote speech in memory of the Confederate soldier and those who looked like me who were his family and friends and who stood by his side.

It would began for me on April 26, 2008 in the city of Ringgold, Georgia where the day before the Honorable Roger McCredie and the Honorable Kirk D. Lyons of the Southern Legal Resource Center would process a law suit against the City of Ringgold for the desecration of the Confederate Memorial at the Depot there. I would arrive in Ringgold at 8:30 AM, position myself at the front entrance of the Depot, brandishing the Southern Cross, and be joined by Pop and other Southern Compatriots later who had come to hear me deliver the keynote speech at a planned rally at the Ringgold courthouse at noon. It was reported to me that more Africans had lived in this very county and that more of them had gone off to war in support of the Southland than any other county in Georgia. I was somewhat baffled that those who remained here and were descendants of those honorable Africans would stand idly by and watch as the honor of their ancestors would be placed asunder by a few. Yet I would also learn that it was Southerners who sat on this very Council with the exception of just two who would lead this unholy charge against the Southern Cross. General Patrick Ronayne Cleburne, for sure would have been disappointed at the actions of the descendants of the Africans who he had praised and put his reputation on the line for when he asked in a circular letter to President Davis, and his peers, that the Africans be brought into the Confederate ranks legally. Now they used his flag against the Confederate soldiers and the Southland that he and their ancestors loved so dearly. I would leave Ringgold and travel back two hours down Interstate 75 where I would attend the Tennessee Sons of Confederate Veterans State Re-union. After listening to a great keynote speech and having been treated like royalty by State Commander Dr. Bradley, Commander Ron Jones, past commander Ed Butler, past Commander Skip Earle, the ladies of the Tennessee Order of the Confederate Rose and their new President Ms. Jan Hensley and the many guest gathered, I would speak briefly, receive a rousing ovation that brought me near tears, and began the 6 hour drive to Marion, Alabama.

Sunday morning April 27, 2008 I would deliver the first of two speeches for Confederate Memorial Day in the City of Marion Alabama. The first I would deliver on the grounds of the Episcopal Church, the Church of the Honorable Robert E. Lee, but not before being told by the Sons of Confederate Veterans Commander, the Honorable Gary Johnson that the Episcopalians had forewarned the Sons that no Confederate flag could be brought to the area of the cemetery so named Confederate Rest where the many Confederate soldiers lie in their final resting place. Two empty flag poles stood in the center of the grounds over the soldiers graves where the 1st national and Alabama secession flag had already been removed in dishonor. Commander Johnson would tell the many gathered that I was not a member of the Sons Camp there in Marion; therefore he could not admonish me for defying the request of the Episcopalians . I stood ready with the Battle Flag and delivered the keynote speech, and anxiously awaited any action the Episcopalians might bring. Here I stood on the grounds where the Bishop of the Episcopalian Churches of Alabama was also the President of the School of the South, a school so designated in its conception was to fight the very things that it now so willingly adheres to; dishonoring the memory of the Confederate soldier and the people who united together to fight a man who had invaded their homeland and the constitutionality of their right to sovereign governance. After delivering the keynote speech, alongside the many Sons and ladies of the United daughters of the Confederacy and members of the public, we would leave Confederate Rest in a parade formation and march the some 3 miles through downtown Marion to Elmwood cemetery where once again I would deliver the keynote speech.

On Friday, May 2, 2008, I would arrive in Columbia, South Carolina where I would join the ladies of the Order of the Confederate Rose, the Sons of Confederate Veterans and others in the reading of the Muster Role of the Confederate soldiers. On Saturday morning after gathering in Elmwood cemetery and listening to a rousing speech by Rev. Bob Slimp and others, we would all march back to the State House Capitol grounds where I, the Son of former slaves in the State of my mother would be given once again the great honor of delivering the keynote speech for Confederate Memorial Day. I know that she and my father looked down on this day with great pride as once again I would receive a rousing ovation from those who had gathered to listen.

On Monday, May 26, 2008, I would once again adorn the uniform of the Southern soldier and pick up the Southern Cross. I would station myself at the Zebulon Vance and General Robert E. Lee monuments as I awaited the Memorial Day Ceremony that was to take place in two hours. I would pose for many pictures and answer many questions from the many citizens and visitor who would stop and was so impressed by the young black woman who stopped with her husband and young daughter who not only wanted to take pictures, but wanted her child to understand the honorable role that black folks had played alongside their Southern White family in the War for Southern independence. I had earlier been joined by Rocky D., a prominent Radio talk show host from Charleston, South Carolina and his lady friend Becky. Rocky would comment on the many pictures I would take and the warm reception I was receiving. He and Becky would soon leave to visit the North Carolina Arboretum and tell me that they would return for the Veterans Day Ceremony at City County Plaza. Upon arriving at the Plaza, I would be warmly greeted by many who had gathered, take pictures with the Boy Scouts, the gentleman whose picture who appear on the front page of the Mountain section of the local newspaper that reported on the activities of the day, chide a woman from the North who asked of me how I could appear in a Confederate uniform carrying a Confederate flag. I told her that it was the actions of a Southern woman (MS. Nora Fontaine Davidson) that had spearheaded this event, and that furthermore Americans should never forget the Southern soldier. I received a thunderous ovation from the many other ladies who were listening to the conversation. Soon I would be greeted warmly by the Honorable Bob Caldwell, a local TV news celebrity who present the Welcome and Closing comments for the days program and the local Commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars. They would both express their gratitude in my presence. Mr. Caldwell would began his opening comments by talking about how Union General Logan, First Commander of the Grand Army of the Republic after being influenced by his wife upon her visits to Blanford Cemetery had recommended a National Decoration Day. “National Memorial Day.” Chaplain Candidate (2LT) Shumpert was called upon to deliver the Closing Comments after Guest Speaker Congressman Heath Shuler gave the keynote, and I must say that I was somewhat surprise to hear Sgt. Joshua Peyton O’Connor and Major Michelle Bretz read a letter from a Confederate soldier. Chaplain Candidate (2Lt) Shumpert just couldn’t leave well enough along. He came to the podium with everyone including myself expecting him to deliver the Benediction. I removed my cap, and the officer began his comments by saying that he wanted to continue the dialogue that Mr. Caldwell had started about Union general Logan. He started talking about the generals comments on the recent unpleasantness committed by the rebellious Southerners and how the efforts of the union soldier would never allow such a rebellion to happen again. On and on he went sticking it to the South, until I replaced my hat upon my head, took four steps backward and placed my flag at half staff. After Mr. Caldwell finished the closing remarks, I went directly to the stage where Chaplain Candidate (2LT) was seat and told him in no uncertain terms that I did not appreciate his comments. With a dumb look on his face, he asked another soldier and others seated on the stage, what did I say? Mr. Caldwell must have understood my rage for he would approach me moments later and once again comment on how much he appreciated seeing me there.

Rocky D and his friend would existed from the audience soon after and ask of me if Mr. Shuler was the Mayor? I pointed to Ms. Bellamy and asked if they wanted to meet her? They both said yes. I approached the Mayor who was in a conversation with a member of the Statehouse. After some time I begged her apology to get her attention. Very gruffly, she said just a moment and turned her back on us. We stood patiently for several minutes waiting for the mayor to finish her conversation with the lady. Finally she turned to her left with her back still to us and asked a group of Boy Scouts and young ladies had on what appeared to be Boy Scout shirts if they wanted to attend a City Council meeting and recite the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag, and gave them a number to call to do so. The Scouts looked somewhat dumbfounded by the dialogue because they had not even solicited the request. She then turn around and I introduced Rocky D and his friend. Rocky began a conversation about the Mayor of Charleston, and Mary a photographer who had been taking pictures asked the mayor if she would take a picture with me. Ms Bellamy’s reply was no, I’m not going to take a picture with him. Everyone gathered seem somewhat surprised by the Mayors response and the way she responded to Mary whose father had been a veteran in WWI and had fought in many famous battles. Mary like many people gathered who have followed my exploits with the Confederate cause knew that I had posed with many Mayors, Senators, Governors, and a host of celebrities all across this nation taking pictures with the Southern Cross adorned in the uniform of the Southern soldier, and had even posed with the young scouts who now looked somewhat more perplexed by the actions of the Mayor. All in all it had been a great day in Dixie, but I don’t think that I shall ever again attend the Asheville–Buncombe Memorial Day Ceremony.