Groups gather to honor Confederate veterans
By Celinda Emison
Posted April 11, 2010 Photo by Nellie Doneva, Nellie Doneva/Reporter-News
Gene Skaggas, left, and Blayne Williamson, right, from the De Leon chapter of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, stand by during cannon fire in a Confederate memorial service at Sipe Springs Cemetery on Sunday.
SIPE SPRINGS — Muskets and cannons were fired to honor fallen Confederate soldiers during a memorial service Sunday at Sipe Springs Cemetery, about 70 miles east of Abilene between Rising Star and De Leon.
Members and supporters of several Big Country chapters of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, clad in period attire, gathered at the cemetery to pay tribute to their fallen ancestors who fought in the Civil War. Even though others have angrily decried the flying of what they refer to as the “Confederate Battle flag,” those in attendance of this event defended their right to fly the flag and honor Confederate history. We want to fight back about all this anti-Southern media,” said Dan Hudson, commander of the Captain June Kimble Camp #488 of Eastland.
Hudson also defended the groups’ right to acknowledge Confederate History Month during April. The Sons of Confederate Veterans Web site has a copy of a resolution issued by Gov. Rick Perry in March 1999 recognizing April as Confederate History and Heritage Month in Texas.
“We have Black History Month and Cinco de Mayo, so why can’t we have Confederate History Month?” Hudson asked. “There is nothing new about us. We believe the same thing our ancestors believed.”
Hudson said one way his group and others defended their right to honor their ancestors was by putting out over 1,300 small Confederate flag on the graves of fallen Civil War soldiers.
“So we started putting out grave flags,” he said. The flag campaign was such a success, he said, that the groups organized campaigns to put monuments from the Sons of Confederate Veterans in Eastland. Comanche, Stephenville and Sipe Springs. He touted the groups’ purpose in honoring their ancestry.
“To defend the soldier’s good name, perpetuate the principles of home and hearth and to make sure the true history of the South is preserved for future generations,” Hudson said.
The event also was held to honor Robert Atwood Vernon, a member of SCV Groups in Eastland and Sipe Springs who died in December 2009. Thomas Harrison, commander of the 2nd Texas Frontier Camp 1904 of De Leon, told the crowd that Vernon was a “true southern gentleman” and loyal member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans.
During the ceremony, the ladies of the Major George B. Erath 2679 Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, wearing their black “Antebellum” dresses, read the names of 44 Confederate soldiers who were buried at the Sipe Springs Cemetery.