Confederate history recalled

By Stephen Milligan
The Walton Tribune
Published June 27, 2007

MONROE — A century and a half after Appomattox, the lawn of the Walton County
Historic Courthouse was filled with gray uniforms and flags waving the stars and
bars as the Sons of Confederate Veterans celebrated the 100th anniversary of the
dedication of the Confederate Monument.

The re-dedication ceremony saw re-enactors with rifles and cannons celebrating
the men of Walton County who served in the Civil War. While a family band played
a few familiar tunes, including “Dixie,” and the soldiers performed
military drills on the lawn, the main event was to celebrate a cause that the
spectators see as a continuing struggle for honor and dignity.

“The county is in rapid change,” said Robert Mitchell, commander
of the local Captain Matthew Talbot Nunnally Camp Sons of Confederate Veterans.

“As we grow, we begin to lose touch with our history,” Mitchell
said. “When my parents’ generation passes on, we are one more generation
removed from the event. It’s important to remind people this is part and
parcel of who we are.”

The monument was built after an extensive local fund-raising campaign raised
$2,500 to purchase the granite from Elberton. The monument was formally dedicated
on June 1, 1907.

Before the formal re-dedication of the monument, several speakers waxed on the
importance of the event. Knox Bell, Monroe’s code enforcement director,
recited portions of the original dedication speech by Gov. Henry McDaniel, while
Bill Cannafax and Mike Strickland donated a full set of the Confederate Roster
to the Monroe-Walton County Library.

For the main speaker, former Walton County resident Jim Dykes, the day was one
to commemorate with full splendor.

“This is a sacred day,” Dykes said. “You and I are a people
who need to remember who we are and what we are as a people of honor, dignity
and respect.”

Dykes said that the memory of the Confederate veterans was one that was important
to an understanding of the Southern culture of both the past and future.

“They who fought in the army of the Confederacy were fighting as Americans
for the American way,” Dykes said. “They fought because they believed
in Georgia. They fought because their land was invaded. They believed in the
right to determine their own existence. They felt they were called to fight
against oppression. We fought for truth, justice and the American way.”

While the Civil War may have ended with the nation intact and the dream of the
Confederacy one of the past, Dykes said the values of those who fought for the
South were American in spirit and still valuable today.

“The valor and the honor of the Confederate soldier is unimpeachable,”
Dykes said. “Those folks are holy and honorable to me. We are a fiercely
independent people and we in the South saw freedom from oppression as exactly

After Dykes spoke, Mitchell re-dedicated the monument to the more than 1,700
men of Walton County who served in the Civil War and Mary Kidd, president of
the James M. Gresham Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, placed
a wreath before the granite spire.

Loganville resident Brenda Bailey felt the ceremony was an excellent way to
commemorate the history of Walton County.

“I thought it was very moving,” Bailey said. “I guess we kind
of forget our history and this brings it all to life.”