LEST WE FORGET: WHAT DIFFERENCE DOES IT MATTER
Here in Arkansas we are surrounded by the history of the brave men who fought for and many who died for the cause of the Confederacy. Our state contains many graves of these brave men. Some are our relatives, others who desired to leave their ravished homeland. Men are buried in all forms of cemeteries creating their Final Bivouac. Some can be found in regular cemeteries, others in small family plots, others are just in isolated areas, while others are just lost.
Lt. General Stephen Dill Lee in his charge to the United Confederate Veterans (now the Sons of Confederate Veterans) stated:
“To you, Sons of Confederate Veterans, we will commit 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.”
Focus at the inner phrase “guardianship of his history.” Should we just look at a man’s war record? I think NOT. These men who so gallantly fought for the Confederacy should not be forgotten even in death. Yet, I would tell you that is happening across our state, and across the country where these men are in their final resting place.
This past weekend I had the honor of attending a grave’s preservation workshop here in Northwest Arkansas. The workshop was held in the Canehill Community just west of Fayetteville. As we were shown various techniques to repair headstones, we noted a Southern Cross of Honor on one grave. As we walked throughout the cemetery, 6 additional headstones were found that designated the grave as belonging to a Confederate soldier (VA Headstone). We also found one headstone in which the family has inscribed on the headstone, that the grave’s occupant was a Confederate soldier. Toward the rear of the cemetery, stood a monument for Major Fontaine R. Earle and his wife. Major Earle is the namesake of my current camp. We also placed a battle flag on each grave of known Confederate men.
Unfortunately, with all of this excitement, a taste of reality was delivered. Not one of these seven men were to be found in the Confederate Graves Registry, which our national organization maintains. http://cgr.scv.org/
Shame on me! Shame on any of our members who do not go out into these cemeteries, identify the final resting place of these men and make sure that they are entered in the Confederate Graves Registry. The process is rather simple, and does not take much time. Do we not owe this to the men?
As time progresses, many of these cemeteries will be forgotten and abandoned. As each of us grows older, what will happen with the information on these men and their graves as we pass? Will it too be forgotten and abandoned? We must provide a record to the future generations as to the final bivouac of these men. As of this moment I will issue a challenge to every member of the Arkansas Division, every camp to find the time, get out in your local cemeteries, identify these graves and get the information on the Confederate Grave Registry. Do we not owe this to the men of the Confederacy? I will submit to you that per Lt General Stephen Dill Lee charge, without hesitation we all owe it to these Soldiers.