Friday, June 15, 2012

Confederate Monument Rededicated in Victoria, Texas

Confederate statue rededicated for 100th anniversary (Video)
Ceremony at DeLeon Plaza marks 100th anniversary.
By Dianna Wray
June 1, 2012

"The war is over, and that flag waves above a united people where it is loved by every heart and would be defended by every hand. And coming from the South as I do, I can say that if Abraham Lincoln were alive this evening, there is not a foot of soil under Dixie's sky on which he might not pitch his tent and pillow his head upon a Confederate soldier's knee and rest in safety there."

Mayor William J. Craig
during speech formally accepting monument in June 1912. Read Friday by Victoria City Councilman Paul Polasek.

A man in full Confederate gray pressed a bugle to his lips and music reverberated off the buildings surrounding DeLeon Plaza.

Standing before the monument to Confederate soldiers, Susan Purcell's eyes widened beneath the wide-brimmed hat and she held her body rigid to control the emotion, biting her lip to keep the tears from spilling over.

"When you stop and think that one of my ancestors was one of the honored, it brings out a lot of emotion about what those men gave up to fight for this, for their people," she said.

She watched as children stepped forward to rest wreaths of flowers against the base of the marble monument.

It has stood in this spot on the square for a century.

On Friday afternoon, more than 100 people turned out to mark the anniversary and take part in the rededication of the statue.

The statue was placed in DeLeon Plaza in 1912 by the William P. Rogers Chapter 44 of the Daughters of the Confederacy in honor of the Confederate soldiers.

The Civil War started 151 years ago, but that wrenching part of American history felt much more recent as men dressed as Confederate soldiers marched flags toward the gazebo at the center of the square to open the rededication ceremony and women in hoop skirts fanned themselves beneath the shade of the trees.

For a moment, it was another time.

"This is to remember what our ancestors did a long time ago, how they fought to defend their homes. That's what this is about," said Ann Heinrich, president of the local chapter of the Daughters of the Confederacy.

Michael Hurley, commander of the George Overton Stoner Camp, a branch of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, said they conduct the event to honor their ancestors who fought in the Civil War and to ensure that they won't be forgotten.

"It's just important to remember those who came before us, and this is a way to remember our heritage" Hurley said.

The rededication featured speakers from the United Daughters of the Confederacy and others to mark the event.

People fanned themselves, limp in the heat, but sprang to their feet to sing "Dixie's Land" as the Crossroads Community Band played the tune.

Sylvia Garza grew up in Victoria. She remembers playing on the statue as a child, but she never knew what the statue represented. She stood in the crowd watching the ceremony with a smile.

"That's why they do this, to remind people what this stands for," Garza said.

As the ceremony ended, Purcell looked up at the statue, studying the bronze profile of the soldier depicted in the monument. The war ended long ago, but Purcell, a member of the Daughters of the Confederacy since 1973, is just one of many working to make sure their ancestors are not forgotten.

"Our history is something we hold very dear and we try to keep that alive. Some people don't understand that, but if you come from here, you hold the past very dearly to your heart," Purcell said.