The Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV) Pvt. John Wesley Culp Camp # 1961 of Gettysburg Pennsylvania received notification from SCV National. All of the SCV camps in the Country were to celebrate Confederate Flag Day on March 5, 2016. Each camp was responsible for deciding how they would celebrate. Originally it was planned to be on private property, but threats were received, so of course the venue had to be changed. The final venue location was on the battlefield, on Confederate Avenue at the Eternal Light Peace Memorial. A fitting location as the top half of the monument is made of Alabama limestone and the bottom half of Maine granite.
Patriots turned out in numbers of at least 200. Other Sons of Confederate Veterans Camps from Maryland, West Virginia and Pennsylvania attended as well. There were dozens of different Confederate flags, from different states and brigades. The Pvt. John Wesley Culp camp handed out 3 by 5 inch flags to everyone who attended. They had several different Confederate flags including The Battle flag, The First National, The 2nd National and the 3rd National. Gettysburg SCV Camp Commander Gary Casteel began the Ceremony. He led the pledge of Allegiance and the salute to the Confederate Flag.
The guest speaker was retired Marine Lt. Col. Michael Landree from Tennessee. Landree is also the Executive Director of the SCV National. He began by saying, “I praise God every day for the ability to know my ancestors fought for the South Land.” He continued by saying that this was one of many flag rally’s across the entire Country. Last year when the SCV had their National convention one of the topics they talked about was that they wanted to have a flag rally where all of us got together to celebrate our heritage. They decided that we would do it all on one day, we would do it all across the South, all across the Nation. Wherever the SCV is, where all the people who believe in their ancestors are, they got together today.
Landree told 3 stories, the first about 1776 and how the Declaration of Independence was the foundational document of American Government. It states that Consents that the Government receives the powers from the consent of the people.
The second story was about the Civil War. 11 states decided that based upon the principles of the American Revolution, the southern states broke away from the Union. Because they wrongfully and unjustly broke the Union apart, were traitors, and of course fought a war to preserve slavery. . It’s A Great Story, But Of Course It’s Not True.
The third story is one of 11 separate Nations. That is based upon the Revolution their ancestor’s fought. To secede from a Union that they created themselves was the basis for that Union, because that government received its power from the consent of the people. The South seceded and built their own Country. They were invaded by the Union and conquered. Just because you lose does not mean that the principles for which that war was fought, or the principles of secession were wrong.
Then Landree pointed to the Battle flag and said, “This flag is a symbol of defiance against tyranny. There are those who would like to change it to something else but we know what this flag stands for. We stand on Holy ground, this ground that we stand on today was part of the first day of the Battle of Gettysburg. 50 years after that, they came up here and they created the Peace Memorial. This flame has been burning ever since that time, 103 years ago. Today we celebrate our ancestor’s. We celebrate the principles on which they fought, on which they died. We are the descendants of these men. Every last one of us here understands and knows who our ancestors were. My ancestors fought in the 1st Mississippi Infantry. I had another one that fought in Texas. His son died in his arms, he was a Union Officer.”
Landree shared that he was working on a flyer for the SCV magazine on diversity in the Confederate army. He read a quote from it, “Dr. Louis Steiner of the US Sanitary Commission observed while the Confederate Army marched in Maryland during the 1862 Maryland Campaign. Over 3,000 Negros had arms, riffles, muskets, sabers, bowie knives etc. and were manifestly an integral portion of the Southern Confederate Army.” He added 153 years ago when the Confederates lost the battle of Gettysburg, they marched back into Virginia there was a Pvt. Who was part of the ranks, Pvt. Richard Poplar, he was in the 13th Virginia Cavalry Co. H of the Sussex Light Brigade. He was captured on his way back from Gettysburg and he spent 19 months as a prisoner of war in Fort Delaware and at Point Lookout. He was exchanged on the 1st of March in 1865, that’s pretty much what happened to most of these gentlemen who fought here. But what was interesting about this man was that he was a black man, a black soldier who fought for the Confederacy and spent 19 months in a Federal Prisoner Of War camp. The fact is what made up the Confederate Army is not what people like to think it is. People like to think it was just a bunch of white guys. He gave other examples to prove this wasn’t the case.
After the guest speaker finished, Commander Casteel added, “Certainly we are what we are, we are Southerners at heart. Our genealogy is in place, the blood line’s track us right back to it and we are very proud of it. I know in my family we had those who fought on both sides and we had Native American blood. But we all love the South and we will never forget that because that history is alive and well. I grew up hearing about it day after day, so it makes me proud today being able to say that.” Then he read the vindication of the Sons of Confederate veterans which is read at the end of every meeting. After the benediction all attendees joined in one Big Rebel Yell, then sang Dixie.
-By Marci DiMartino
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