An Open Letter & Open Report / Sitting On The Porch At Andersonville
October 27, 2019
Sitting on the Porch at Andersonville
Dear Ms. Lunelle,
There I sat on the porch of one of the cabins at Andersonville with three of my dearest lady Re-enactor sisters who were hard at work putting the final touches on the dresses they had planned on wearing the next day.
A middle aged black man of whom I had met briefly earlier that morning as he stood and listened to me lecture a white man about why I was don in the uniform of the Southern soldier with his colors posted at the Confederate Cenotaph of Captain Henry Wirtz, who had been the Commandant of Andersonville Prison Camp.
He would tell the ladies and I that he had spent many a day on that same porch watching his great grandma, her daughters, and their white lady friends sewing, laughing and just plain talking. He talked about running across the infamous creek at Andersonville, and then across the hilltop on the other side of it where he lived.
He said he was so proud of me for straightening out that man about not only Captain Wirtz as he had heard his granny do many times, but also the honorable role of the Black Confederate soldier and his family.
I had my wares now laid out on the porch; my Dixie Outfitters shirts, my brother’s March Across Dixie Pictorial Journal (one of which one of the ladies bought), documentary DVDs of my journeys. I was feeling pretty good about myself after having sold two documentary dvds, a book and three shirts in less than five minutes after putting my wares out.
However, I could hear my brother’s and your speech about me giving the very things that help keep me on the road… “HK, don’t give anything away!” I only had ten books, and had already given away four, knowing full well that my little brother would have me on a roof, painting some room or wiring something in one of the houses he repairs to pay for what I had given away. Thank God the three shirts I had sold would pay for one of the books.
I had just read your email; “HK, your calendars are ready, and I have sent you some. Please sell them, and don’t give any away. They are to help you fund your activities.”
No sooner than listening to your voices in my head (and thank God, Dewey Barber at Dixie Outfitters had given up on this speech many years ago) when a pretty baby girl ran up on that porch. “Mr. HK,” she exclaimed, “I bet you don’t remember me. I was a baby when you first came here.” After hugging my neck off, she spotted the Photo Journal with me on the outside front cover with the Mississippi State flag in hand.
“Can I look,” she asked, as she immediately began plodding through the pages exclaiming her delight at every page, and telling me just how much she loved what she saw. I asked her what size shirt did she wear. “Mr. HK, I don’t have any money.” I repeated the question.
The joy and expression on her face with shirt and book in hand, and where in the many places that I knew she would share it was worth the price I would have to pay on the roof top.
On Sunday morning, the next day, as I sat awaiting the Sunday morning worship service and listening to the mighty fine gospel singers warming up, there my baby girl was, don in the Dixie Outfitters shirt that bore my image proclaiming me to be a “Modern Day Confederate Hero.” Before the service began, I would have to return to my car to fetch about ten shirts to sell.
Oh boy I thought, I could fill up my tank, stop for a catfish on my long journey home, and relish in the joy that this baby girl had brought to so many. So, could you and Terry Lee please forgive me and accept my thanks for helping me to raise some much needed funds. God bless you!
Chairman, Board of Advisors Emeritus, Southern Legal Resource Center
Member, Save Southern Heritage Florida
Honorary Life Member, North Carolina, Tennessee and Georgia Order of the Confederate Rose
Recipient, Mississippi Division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, John L. Harris Award
Recipient, United Daughters of the Confederacy, Jefferson Davis Medal
President, Southern Heritage 411