Sunday, May 23, 2010

By Bob Hurst

There was once a time in America when all across the Southland the melodious and uplifting strains of "Dixie" were heard during athletic contests, parades and many other social gatherings and occasions.

There was a time when Southern schools taught of the nobility and character of Robert E. Lee, the military genius and absolute goodness of Stonewall Jackson, the boldness and flair of Jeb Stuart, the audacity and brilliance of Nathan Bedford Forrest and the courage and honor of Jefferson Davis.

There was a time when monuments and statues were regularly raised on courthouse lawns to honor the deeds, the devotion and the spirit of our Confederate ancestors and heroes plus celebrations were held at these iconic sites to remember the heroism of the remarkable Confederates who had fought so hard for the independence of the Southland.

But times change.

About five decades ago this country went through a paradigm shift and began a transformation to a place many of us were, and still are, uncomfortable with. The putrid wind of political correctness began blowing its foul fragrance across this land with especially severe impact on our beloved South. It became verboten to play or sing the wonderful "Dixie" at any of those venues where it had been so common before. Why, the student senate of my undergraduate alma mater, one of the most conservative universities in the country, even voted to have the school band stop playing that wondrous melody at home football games. I never imagined that even a handful of students at Auburn would have voted that way much less the entire student senate.

Another great Southern university, Ole Miss, was every Southerner’s "other" favorite school because they were the "Rebels" and their fans waved the Confederate Battle Flag at athletic events. That, too, changed a few years back when a liberal administration banned the waving of the CBF in the stands at athletic contests. They even changed the school mascot from a well-recognized Southern gentleman figure to something absolutely indescribable.

Many other things of this nature have happened throughout our Southland as political correctness has come to dominate so many aspects of our lives and one of the primary targets for extinction by the PC crowd has been anything having to do with the Confederacy. That is why I found two recent events here in our hard-to-recognize-as-still-Southern state of Florida to be so gratifying and inspiring.

The first occurred on April 24 in Trenton, the county seat of Gilchrist County. On that date a brand new monument was dedicated to the Confederate soldiers who hailed from that part of the state. The key point about the dedication of this monument is that the memorial is located on the grounds of the county courthouse – a public place.

Now, there was a time when it was not unusual at all for Southern groups, primarily the United Daughters of the Confederacy, to have Confederate monuments erected on public property with the full cooperation of elected officials. This, sadly, has become a thing of the past. Too many city, county and state officials are now so afraid that someone might claim to be "offended" by any display of pride in the Confederacy that they meekly give in to the complaints of the Always Complaining People.

This is why it was so inspiring to me to watch two members of John Hance O’Steen Camp of the Sons of Confederate Veterans remove the covering from the monument and reveal to the large crowd in attendance the most recent memorial to our ancestors. I could also detect the pride felt by Camp Commander Clement Lindsey and camp member John Aulick, Jr. as they did the honors.

I know from previous conversations with Commander Lindsey that this was a project several years in the making and I can only say," Job well done, gentlemen, you did us all proud." Kudos to everyone involved in this remarkable project.

By the way, making this accomplishment even more gratifying is the fact that just a couple of years ago the officials in a nearby county had had a Confederate monument moved from the spot at the courthouse in that county where it had sat for decades.

Also remarkable was the good (and fair) coverage that the event received in the very liberal Gainesville SUN newspaper. The article even contained a picture and was located on the front page of the "Local and State" section. Good job, SUN!

Only two days later (April 26) and not far from Trenton, another wonderful event took place. In Cross City, the county seat of Dixie County, a Confederate Memorial Day celebration hosted by Dixie Defenders Camp,SCV, was held on the steps of the courthouse in that fine town. Not only was there a good-sized crowd in attendance but both the city commission and the county commission presented proclamations to the camp declaring that day as Confederate Memorial Day in the city and county. Among those in attendance in front of the courthouse were many people who worked inside the building and a number of elected officials.

As nice as all this was, the most electrifying moment of the day came when (by permission of the county manager and county commission) the Third National Flag of the Confederacy (the current governmental flag of the Confederacy) was run up the sole flagpole at the courthouse and remained there throughout the ceremony. The Third National did not fly alone, however, as just beneath it was hoisted a new Confederate POW flag that was designed by a member of the Dixie Defenders Camp.

I know how hard Camp Commander Joe Sparacino has worked over the past several years to develop a good rapport with the government officials in the city and county. It all paid off with this wonderful and inspiring event which I understand Commander Sparacino hopes to make an annual affair.

I had the privilege of being one of the two speakers for the event (Tampa radio personality Al McCray was the other) and I can say, without reservation, that I will always be proud of my participation in this great occasion and will always look back upon it with fondness.

Since I’m writing about fine events, let me conclude with a heads-up for everyone in this area about an upcoming event that you should fine interesting.

My very first CONFEDERATE JOURNAL article for this magazine, written almost five years ago, was about the terrible damage done by Hurricane Katrina to magnificent Beauvoir, the retirement home in Biloxi of President Jefferson Davis. The huge wave surge and winds did extensive damage to the house itself but simply destroyed the other structures on the property including the museum/library.

The Mississippi Division, Sons of Confederate Veterans, owns and operates Beauvoir and has overseen the complete restoration of the wonderful old house which has been re-opened to the public. Now it is time to rebuild the museum/library and this, of course, will require financial support.

On June 19, 2010, Col. David Lang Camp, SCV, in Tallahassee will host a Jefferson Davis Banquet to help raise money for this rebuilding program. While the Mississippi Division holds title to the presidential shrine, this wonderful place is the responsibility of all true Southerners and especially those in the SCV, OCR, UDC, CoC and other Southern heritage organizations. I invite those of you living in this area to contact me about tickets to the banquet and if anyone reading this article would like to contribute to this worthwhile cause (any donation is appreciated) then please feel free to contact me about this. My contact information is at the end of this article.

Richard Flowers, the curator at Beauvoir, will be the keynote speaker for the evening and will also bring many items from the Beauvoir store (books, collectibles, etc.) which will be available for purchase by those in attendance at the banquet.

I plan for our camp to continue hosting this banquet annually at least until such time as the library/museum is completely rebuilt and again open to the public. I encourage you to help us make this first event a real success.

For the Cause.


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