Reunion opens with reverence for Old South
By Liz Carey
Anderson Independent Mail
July 22, 2010
ANDERSON — A line of Confederate soldier re-enactors stood in uniform and a single bagpipe skirled through the Anderson Civic Center. A huge Confederate flag faced the assemblage and many flags of the South’s past hung in the room where hundreds had gathered to honor their heritage.
The Sons of Confederate Veterans were beginning their national reunion.
The group, whose members are descendants of soldiers of the Confederacy, is in Anderson through Saturday at the Anderson Civic Center. It is the largest convention in Anderson County’s history.
Anderson Mayor Terence Roberts opened the reunion to a standing ovation when he presented a proclamation to Ron Wilson, commander of the Manse Jolly Camp No. 6 of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, the host of the convention.
In the proclamation, Roberts said “our country is a nation of people united by a common history of individual heritage, diverse cultures …” He said it was important to reflect on the nation’s history and gain insight from its mistakes and successes.
South Carolina’s Attorney General Henry McMaster said those who would besmirch the history and heritage of the South should be stopped.
“We need to understand the history in our state and what our heritage is and we need to be proud of it,” McMaster said. “Our ancestors stood tall believing in what they thought was right and they did so with great sacrifice.”
Chuck McMichael, the commander-in-chief of the national organization, said this year marks the 150th anniversary of those sacrifices.
“What must our ancestors have been talking about on their back porches, and after church?” he said. “They were talking about what was going on in their country, and the dismay in their hearts of the course the nation was in, the encroachment of the federal government of the rights that belonged to the states. … It was a storm and a change that they did not believe in.”
As the first state to secede, South Carolina holds a special place in the Confederacy, not only because of its secession, but also because it sent more men to the cause of the Confederacy, while not providing a single organized group to the Union.
McMichael said that as soon as Abraham Lincoln was elected president, a parish in Louisiana seceded from the Union and declared war on the North. South Carolina was to follow in December of 1860.
McMichael said an anti-secessionist attorney, James L Petigru, was reported to have said that “South Carolina is too small to be a republic and too large to be a lunatic asylum.”
“If that’s the case,” McMichael said. “Then for this weekend, I’m proud to be an inmate.”
There were also a number of short speeches by city and county officials including former Anderson County administrator Joey Preston, Anderson County Council members Ron Wilson, Tommy Dunn and Tom Allen, interim Anderson County administrator Rusty Burns and state Rep. Dan Cooper of Piedmont.