Visitors to gather for Confederate Decoration Day

By Matt Lakin
June 4, 2010

The men who died a century and a half ago will receive their annual visitors this weekend.

Sons of Confederate Veterans members will gather Saturday to observe Confederate Decoration Day, the second time the ceremony’s been held since local members revived the tradition last year. They hope to see it continue as an annual event.

"It’s just a way to honor the service of the men who wore the gray," said Ron Jones, commander of the SCV’s Longstreet-Zollicoffer Camp. "Their sacrifice was no less than the other men who fought for their country. That’s what they thought they were doing."

Last year’s ceremony at the Confederate Cemetery on Bethel Avenue drew about 150 people, he estimated. More than 1,600 soldiers are buried there, including about 300 killed during the Battle of Fort Sanders in November 1863, when Confederate troops under Gen. James Longstreet made their last, unsuccessful attempt to recapture Knoxville.

The service begins at 11 a.m. and will include a 21-gun volley and appearances by local Civil War re-enactors. Mike Beck, the SCV’s newly elected state commander, will speak. Visitors should arrive by 10:30 a.m.

The Mabry-Hazen House, built in 1858 and occupied at various times by both sides during the war, will be open for tours beginning at 12:30 p.m.

Next year marks the beginning of the war’s 150th anniversary. Jones said he expects to see more interest in the war as that date gets closer.

"I don’t think that’s really hit people yet," he said. "But as we get closer to December and January, I think we’ll see things begin to turn up."

© 2010, Knoxville News Sentinel Co.

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