Cannon shot to open Veterans Day ceremony

Sunday, October 21, 2012
By Ann Fish
Special to the News & Record

REIDSVILLE — A replica of a Civil War cannon will be fired at 5 p.m. on Nov. 10 to open the Veterans Day observance at Mount Bethel Covenant Church.

This is the third year the church congregation has honored veterans, and the event is growing every year, church historian Wayne Barham said. Last year, nearly 250 people participated, and Barham said he is expecting more this year.

The event will run from 5 to 7:30 p.m. and includes a barbecue chicken dinner. Donations will be accepted to help defray the costs, but all veterans will eat for free

The cannon belongs to the Garnett-Pettigrew Chapter No. 67 Military Order of the Stars & Bars, based in Greensboro.

“We portray an actual North Carolina artillery unit that was known as Patterson’s Battery,” said lst Sgt. Rodney Williams,

The unit also is known as a Memorial Cannon Crew because they do the firing strictly at memorial services.

Other crew members are Capt. Larry Brown; Ordnance Sgt. John Martin; Cpl. Dwain Roberts; Pvt. Calvin Jones; Pvt. John Williams; and Pvt. R. Patrick Williams II.

Built by Dixie Gun Works, the cannon is a two-thirds scale, 3-inch Confederate ordinance rifled gun. The unit purchased the newly manufactured cannon in 2010.

Since then, the cannon has been fired for at least eight memorial services, Williams said.

The organization is comprised of descendants of the Confederate officers corps and civil officials such as appointed or elected officials in the Confederate government.

The seven-member cannon crew wears authentic Confederate uniforms, portraying enlisted men,” Williams said.

“Normally, the crew fires blank cartridges and by the time we have fired three volleys, we have already fired over a pound of black powder,” he said.

“We do this free of charge, honoring Confederate veterans and other veterans as well.”

The program will also have a flag display, featuring the 50-star flag, the 13-star U.S. flag; the seven-star National Confederate flag and the old North Carolina flag carried by Confederate soldiers in battle as well as the present state flag.

The flags will be displayed in a circle around the main flagpole at the corner of the oldest part of the church cemetery.

“All these flags have flown over the United States and North Carolina throughout Mount Bethel’s 150 years,” Barham said.

Gospel music will be provided by the Mount Bethel Choir.

A special part of the program will include a demonstration by Mayodan Cub Scout Unit 562 and Bethany Cub Scout Unit 72 of the proper way to burn and dispose of a flag.

“These boys are 8, 9 and 10 and will be teaching adults how to dispose of old, tattered flags,” Barham said.

After the meal, members of the cannon crew in full uniform will give several demonstrations. They also will be on hand to answer any questions from participants.

At the end of the program, the current flag will be lowered as taps are played.

Those attending can also check out the lighted brick memorial in front of oldest part of the cemetery.

The names of deceased veterans of World War I, World War II, and the wars in Korea and Vietnam who are buried in the cemetery are engraved on bricks. In addition, 11 have names of current church members; and 22 have the names of military friends of Mount Bethel.

“This is really a church/community outreach program,” Barham said. Additional bricks will be added the first of the year. In all, 87 people will be named on the brick pavers and memorial wall.

Fifty-one veterans, including 22 Confederate soldiers, are buried in the cemetery.

The display is handicapped accessible.

The church is at 8130 N.C. 65 in Bethany, and its pastor is the Rev. Kevin Cochran.

Copyright © 2012 News & Record

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