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Myths of confederacy debunked by speaker

You might look twice when you pass the Patrick County Courthouse
during Saturday’s Confederate Memorial Day observation, because
the man in grey holding the Confederate flag will be black.

And he’s there to set things straight.

H.K. Edgerton of Asheville, N.C., is the keynote speaker of the
Confederate Memorial Day observation sponsored by the Wharton-Stuart
Camp of the Sons of Confederate Veterans. The event begins at
1:30 p.m. and will be followed by an old-fashioned Southern pig

Edgerton said that people today don’t have any idea why the Civil
War was fought, and they perpetuate the misconceptions that they
haven’t questioned.

He said that on Saturday he will give his interpretation of the
causes and effects of the Civil War, the role of blacks during
that war and "the cultural genocide that’s (now) taking place
in the Southern homeland … against all things Southern."

In the years leading up to the Civil War, the South was trying
to protect itself from a federal government "that was out
of control," he said.

Edgerton said that to understand the causes of the Civil War,
one must understand how the governmental system of that time differed
from now. In the late 19th century, the state governments had
much greater control, rights and powers than they do now, he said.
They were nearly free-standing entities loosely united as the
United States.

Chris Washburn, camp commander of the Wharton-Stuart Camp, said
"people can’t put it in perspective now. You have to put
yourself in their mindset. First, you were a Virginian, then you
were an American. Most Southerners believed that (the Civil War)
was an invasion of their state."

Edgerton said "The South felt like the federal government
was intruding where it had no place to go. Religion was on the
table — how we worshipped God. As a region, we were quite different
from the North."

Other factors that prompted the Southern states to separate from
the Union included the belief that "the federal government
had no business with the kinds of powers it had, the unfair taxes
that the Southland of America was having to pay and the lack of
those resources being sent back into the South," he said.

"The North broke its contracts (with the government), and
all the South wanted to do was go it’s own way," he added.

"Slavery was not on the table" as a motive for Lincoln’s
attack on the South, he said. Instead, "Lincoln simply knew
that the North needed the South to fund all these industrial complexes
— it couldn’t have the South doing business with Europe."

The institution of slavery was horrible, Edgerton said, but it
could not be eliminated abruptly without throwing the region into
ruin and disarray. He said also that in the 19th century and before,
the New England states were active in the slave trade, and the
slave traders’ boats were constructed there.

Blacks played important roles both in the war as well as keeping
agriculture and trade viable in the homeland, Edgerton said.

"You cannot take the flag and use it against me," he
said. "Black folks earned that place of honor. When they
talk about Black History Month, people generally don’t talk about
black people who played important roles during the Civil War,"
he said.

"Nothing is written down here (about the Civil War) that
comes even close to the truth — it’s deplorable to know what
the United States has done to its people," he said. Students
today are scrutinizing history’s myths and asking analytical questions,
and they deserve to learn the full truths of history, he added.

Edgerton said also that most people don’t realize the beneficial
role that the Ku Klux Klan played during the 12 years after the
Civil War in reconstruction of destroyed areas and protection
for Southern families and communities from invading carpetbaggers.

Carpetbagging contines to plague the South, he said.

"Too many Yankees have moved into the South and taken positions"
on school boards and governmental boards "and (are) leading
the way for cultural genocide in the Southland of America,"
he said. "We welcome them in and the only thing they do is
destroy all things Southern. The black folks don’t want any part
of it."

"I certainly do appreciate the Sons of the Confederate Veterans
for inviting me last year and asking me to come back. I hope to
see more black faces there" this time, he said.

Washburn said that the SCV invited Edgerton to speak because
he was inspired by Edgerton’s message when he heard him speak
at other events.

"He breaks it (history) down to where people can understand
it," Washburn said.

H.K. Edgerton is chairman of the board of advisors emeritus at
the Southern Legal Resource Center, a non-profit group that specializes
in courtroom defenses of Confederate symbols, such as the wearing
of the Confederate flag design at the workplace or at schools.

He is widely recognized for his "Walk Across Dixie for Southern
Heritage," when he marched 1,300 miles from Asheville to
Austin, Texas, in 2002 to carry a message of "heritage not

April has been Confederate History and Heritage Month since the
Patrick County Board of Supervisors made such a proclamation in
2003, said Washburn.

Confederate Memorial Day was originated by a South Carolina Confederate
widow in 1864 and has been observed in other states since 1865.

The day is about "remembering the Confederate dead and the
sacrifices they made," said Washburn. The Stuart-Hairston
Camp of the SCV in Martinsville is helping the Wharton-Stuart
Camp with the event.

After Edgerton speaks on Saturday, historian Tom Perry of Ararat
will talk about the typical Patrick County Civil War soldier and
a wreath-laying ceremony will be held at the Confederate monument.

After the hour-long ceremony, a pig-picking will be held at DeHart
Park, Washburn said. The bluegrass band Marcie Home and Next Step
will perform, and a soldiers’ encampment will show how Civil War
soldiers lived.