Confederate Memorial Day: Local Services go on as Planned
Published: April 26, 2009
Despite recent controversy surrounding Confederate battle flags at an Auburn cemetery, the Confederate Memorial Day service at Pine Hill Cemetery on Sunday went smoothly as planned.
Only one sign of the controversy was evident Sunday afternoon - an Auburn police patrol car parked near the cemetery. A police car was also present at the old Auburn train depot where a smaller ceremony took place later Sunday.
The dispute began Thursday after Auburn City Councilman Arthur L. Dowdell removed a handful of Confederate flags from grave sites at the cemetery, saying they offended him and others and were reminders of racism. Since then, Auburn Mayor Bill Ham released a statement saying Dowdell’s actions do not represent the city’s position and the graves are deeded, private property. Other Auburn council members expressed disapproval, as well. By Sunday night, more than 400 comments had been posted at http://www.oanow.com on the topic, and more than 3,700 votes had been cast in the site’s online poll. The majority expressed their disapproval of removing the flags.
Auburn police said Sunday no reports regarding the incident had been filed.
Sunday, the United Daughters of the Confederacy Admiral Semmes Chapter 57 of Auburn led the Pine Hill Cemetery service with poems, a history of the chapter and a roll call of the 75 Confederate soldiers buried in the cemetery. Approximately 70 people, many sporting the Confederate flag on their clothes, stood while a string band played “Dixie.”
Confederate Memorial Day is celebrated as a state holiday today.
The chapter has placed small Confederate flags on the Pine Hill graves of Confederate soldiers for years, chapter president Mary Potts said.
Potts said she thought the recent debate over the flags placed on the graves is “unfortunate.”
Potts said the chapter placed the flags on Confederate soldiers’ graves as a sign of respect. “I think it’s unfortunate that they don’t understand our purpose,” she said. “It’s not racist at all. It’s part of our history, and we want to preserve that history as it was.”
Along with history, the chapter focuses on veterans, including making donations to the veterans’ home in Tuskegee, she said.
In a separate service, approximately a dozen people gathered at the old Auburn train depot later Sunday afternoon to remember the Auburn Guards, a group of Confederate soldiers for which that organizing chapter of the UDC is named.
Poll Results to Date - go to the link to cast your vote.
Dowdell was wrong 98% (4072 votes)
Dowdell was right 2% (104 votes)
Total Votes: 4176