April 2010, Confederate History and Heritage Month, is the month that marked the beginning of the War Between the States (1861) and its end (1865.)
In 2009, the Georgia General Assembly approved Senate Bill No. 27, signed by Governor Sonny Perdue, officially and permanently designating April as Confederate History and Heritage Month.
The Old South captures the imagination of people from around the world who come to see; Southern Belle’s in hoop skirts, Confederate flags and Southern Memorial’s like the famous carving of: Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson and Jefferson Davis at Stone Mountain Memorial Park near Atlanta.
On Saturday, April 10, 2010, an Annual National Confederate Memorial Service is scheduled to begin at noon front of the Carving Reflection Pool at Stone Mountain Park sponsored by the Georgia Society Military Order of Stars and Bars and Georgia Division Sons of Confederate Veterans. http://www.georgiascv.com/
April is a time to remember the men and women of the Confederacy and those who kept their memory eternal; like Ms. Mildred Lewis Rutherford who almost a century ago served as Historian-General of the United Daughters of the Confederacy. She was a respected teacher, writer, speaker and defender of the true history of the War Between the States. Ms. Rutherford also wrote a monthly newsletter from 1923 to 1926 entitled “Miss Rutherford’s scrapbook” and in 1920 wrote the book “Truths of History.”
Efforts to mark Confederate graves, erect monuments and hold memorial services were the idea of Mrs. Charles J. Williams. It is written that she was an educated and kind lady. Her husband served as Colonel of the 1st Georgia Regiment during the War Between the States. He died of disease in 1862, and was buried in his home town of Columbus, Georgia.
Mrs. Williams and her daughter visited his grave often and cleared the weeds, leaves and twigs from it, then placed flowers on it. Her daughter also pulled the weeds from other Confederate graves near her father.
It saddened the little girl that their graves were unmarked. With tears of pride she said to her Mother, "These are my soldiers' graves." The daughter soon became ill and passed away in her childhood. Mrs. William's grief was almost unbearable.
On a visit to the graves of her husband and daughter, Mrs. Williams looked at the unkept soldiers' graves and remembered her daughter as she cleaned the graves and what the little girl had said. She knew what had to do.
Mrs. Williams wrote a letter that was published in Southern newspapers asking the women of the South for their help. She asked that memorial organizations be established to take care of the thousands of Confederate graves from the Potomac River to the Rio Grande. She also asked the state legislatures to set aside a day in April to remember the men who wore the gray. With her leadership April 26 was officially adopted in many states. She died in 1874, but not before her native state of Georgia adopted it as a legal holiday.
Mrs. Williams was given a full military funeral by the people of Columbus, Georgia and flowers covered her grave. For many years a yearly memorial was conducted at her grave following the soldiers' memorial.
Among the gallant women of the Confederacy was Captain Sally Tompkins who was the first woman to be commissioned an officer on either side of the War Between the States. Commissioned by Jefferson Davis, she took care of thousands of soldiers in Richmond, Virginia until the end of the war.
Those who served the Confederacy came from many races and religions. There was Irish born General Patrick R. Cleburne, black Southerner Amos Rucker, Jewish born Judah P. Benjamin, Mexican born Colonel Santos Benavides and American Indian General Stand Watie who was born in Rome, Georgia.
Find out more about Confederate History Month at: http://confederateheritagemonth.com
Johnson is chairman of the Confederate History Month Committee for the Sons of Confederate Veterans.