Greetings folks! - Here is a copy of the talk I will be giving this evening at the Old Bakersville Cemetery in Mitchell County, North Carolina. The known Confederates buried there are:
Private James W. Bailey,
Co. C 58th North Carolina
Private Theodore P. Baker,
Co. I 29th North Carolina
Private Albert N Blaylock,
Co. G 58th North Carolina
Captain Jacob Bowman,
Co. B 58th North Carolina
Private William G. Bowman,
Co I 29th North Carolina
Lieutenant John H. Flemming,
Co. A 49th North Carolina
Captain John Wilson Gudger,
Co. C 29th North Carolina
Sergeant Berry Stewart
Co. B 58th North Carolina
Today is Confederate Decoration Day, or Confederate Memorial Day in North Carolina. This special day was first observed in North Carolina in Raleigh 140 years ago today. A group of ladies, many of them widows of Confederate soldiers, met at the capital, walked over to Oakwood Cemetery, and decorated the graves of the Confederate dead that had been recently moved from the old burial ground at the Rock Quarry Cemetery.
For the past week, all across the state, people have gathered to commemorate the Old North State’s Confederate soldiers. From a large observance last Saturday in the state capital to wreath laying ceremonies like the one in Salisbury, from the countless flags placed on graves in large and small cemeteries to the flying of the Confederate and state colors on the grounds of the courthouse in Yancey County, we have met to honor the state’s Confederate soldiers.
The greatest fear of the old soldiers, especially as they grew aged and gray, as other conflicts and current events bypassed their moment on the pages of history, was that they and their deeds might be forgotten. Sadly, that terrible fear has become reality for most of these men as they have slipped beneath the surface of our nation’s memory.
We should all be sad, we should all shed a tear, that so many of the South’s valiant sons lie in forgotten graves, with only the green sod as their marble monument.
We should all be sad that the deeds of the old soldiers are no longer passed down from father to son, that the heartache that once was born in a woman’s bosom for a lost husband or son or father, has been forgotten.
Ms. Anna Smith, grand daughter of Pvt. Abner Smith of the 37th North Carolina, once spoke these words during a reunion of old soldiers not too far from where we are.
The world will always wonder at and admire the valiant deeds of the men who followed Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson and those other matchless leaders of the Southern cause. No army ever fought as they did; they battled against overwhelming odds and their many victories were only achieved by death-defying courage and devotion to duty equal to that of the soldiers of ancient Rome.
Well Ms. Smith, I am sorry to say, almost one hundred years after you spoke, the world no longer wonders and admires the valiant deeds of the men who followed Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson and those other matchless leaders of the Southern cause.
We few are here this beautiful spring evening to remember a handful of old soldiers. None of these perished in strife, none paid the ultimate sacrifice, but they served; they answered the call when the Tar Heel state bade them come.
We, the descendants of the old soldiers buried here, or in other cemeteries across the South, have a responsibility. That responsibility was laid before us by Lt. Gen. Stephen D. Lee in 1906, when he committed to us, the descendants of Confederate soldiers,
the vindication of the cause for which we fought. To your strength will be given the defense of the Confederate soldier's good name, the guardianship of his history, the emulation of his virtues, the perpetuation of those principles which he loved and which you love also, and those ideals which made him glorious and which you also cherish.
Tonight, as we close our service of remembrance, let me, a descendant of Confederate soldiers, challenge you, to go back to your homes, learn about the deeds of your Confederate ancestors, and then pass those stories down to sons and daughters, you grand children, and the members of your community. These men, former Confederate soldiers, earned the right to be remembered.