VIRGINIA: Southern Heritage Organizations Love to Exhibit Past

The Confederacy holds a special place in the hearts of many Southerners, especially members of heritage organizations.

DANVILLE, Va. — “It’s special to me because virtually all of my male ancestors were in the war,” said Vernell Gwynn, president of the Anne Eliza Johns chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy. “They did not have battles here in Danville and Pittsylvania County, but all of our ancestors had to go to battle.”

Patti Okeefe/Special to the Register & Bee Confederate and Union soldiers uniforms are on display at the Danville Museum of Fines Arts and History.

Patti Okeefe/Special to the Register & Bee
Confederate and Union soldiers uniforms are on display at the Danville Museum of Fines Arts and History.

For Wayne Byrd, the South “is a great place to live, [with] good people, good music, good food.

“I can’t think of anywhere else I’d want to live,” said Byrd, who serves on the board of directors for the Heritage Preservation Association, which he helped form in Danville in the early 1990s.

No one in the South retires and moves up North, Byrd said.

Ed Chaney, camp historian with the Sons of Confederate Veterans’ Pittsylvania Vindicators Camp 828, said the South’s slower pace and bucolic scenery contribute to the region’s uniqueness.

“[It’s] more laid-back, not in a rush all the time,” said Chaney, who is also secretary of the Heritage Preservation Association. “It’s beautiful… the landscape.”

However, Chaney expressed frustration at attempts to besmirch or attack the symbols and heritage of the South. “Political correctness” is destroying the South, he said, pointing to examples including moves to get rid of the Lee-Jackson holiday in Charlottesville and to pull down Confederate battle flags at the Lee Chapel at Washington & Lee University and groups calling the flags of the Confederacy “racist.”

“It’s happening everywhere,” Chaney said.

Also, Texas is having to fight to get SCV license plates, he pointed out.

“It shouldn’t be that way,” he said.

The SCV takes care of Confederate graves on the region, does genealogies and holds fundraisers for area charities, Chaney said.

He agrees that the flag has been misused by hate groups like the Ku Klux Klan, but detractors should go after racist organizations themselves instead of the flag, he said.

Also, soldiers who fought and died for the Confederacy deserve the same respect and remembrance as those from other wars, he said.

“Respect the soldier, they’re just like any other soldier in any other war,” Chaney said.



TEXAS: Orange Confederate Monument Will Include 32 Flags

BEAUMONT, Tx. — Despite community concerns about the city of Orange’s image, motorists entering Texas from Louisiana on Interstate 10 will be greeted by 32 waving flags representing Texas regiments of theConfederate army as soon as the flagpoles are erected.

The Confederate memorial at Orange's Martin Luther King Drive and Interstate 10, is scheduled to have 32 Confederate flags erected upon the structure's completion. The flags will be installed in increments of eight. Photo taken Monday, April 03, 2015 Guiseppe Barranco/The Enterprise Photo: Guiseppe Barranco, Photo Editor

The Confederate memorial at Orange’s Martin Luther King Drive and Interstate 10, is scheduled to have 32 Confederate flags erected upon the structure’s completion. The flags will be installed in increments of eight. Photo taken Monday, April 03, 2015 Guiseppe Barranco/The Enterprise Photo: Guiseppe Barranco, Photo Editor

The Confederate monument near Martin Luther King Jr. Drive is Orange in nearing completion, despite earlier attempts to prevent construction. The free speech rights of Sons of Confederate Veterans trumps the disgust of many citizens.

“I don’t like it. I think it’s a bad idea,” Orange City Attorney John Cash “Jack” Smith said last week. “But they own the property, and the First Amendment warrants them that right.”

The Sons of Confederate Veterans, the group behind the $50,000-memorial, just ordered the custom-made flag poles, said Marshall Davis, Texas Division spokesman. The group has been raising money for the project for two years and construction has moved along as fund have allowed.

The thirteen columns that represent the states that fought on the side of the Confederacy during the Civil War already stand north of the interstate off Martin Luther King Jr. Drive. The group will add eight flags as soon as the poles come in – though Davis can’t estimate when that will be – and the remaining flags will be added in increments of eight as funds allow until all 32 stand around the circular monument, Davis said.

Each flag with have a nameplate and history of the flag.

Locals whose ancestors fought in the Confederate Army or Navy also contributed to the memorial by purchasing bricks at $50, $300 and $500 and benches at $800, according to the group’s website.

Residents criticized the council for allowing the project to move forward. But Smith said the city could have been sued if its officials had tried to block it.

“Sometimes we don’t like somebody’s free speech,” Smith said. “But we can’t stop it.”

Paul Jones, president of the Beaumont chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, questioned whether erecting a memorial that honors those who promoted and fought for the enslavement of fellow human beings is even a matter of freedom of speech and expression.

“When you try to express your opinion to dehumanize a group of people, it’s no longer a matter of freedom of speech,” Jones said Friday.

Granvel Block of Orange, commander of the statewide SVC group and the Orange camp and main force behind the project, rebuffs arguments that slavery was the cause of the Civil War. He said slave owners were scattered across the map, not just the south. He said the Confederate states fought for their sovereignty when “our states were invaded by northern troops.”

Granvel said the memorial, besides honoring Confederate veterans, will serve an educational purpose, setting the record straight on many aspects of the Confederacy’s history.

“So many things (about the Confederacy) have been taught wrong or with a poor skew,” according to written material that Davis provided.

Granvel, who also is a plaintiff in a recent free-speech case brought before the U.S. Supreme Court that argued that Texas was wrong in rejecting a specialty vehicle license plate displaying the Confederate flag, has since asked Davis to handle all questions about the Orange memorial.

When the Sons of Confederate Veterans proposed the memorial in February 2013, Orange citizens flocked to a city council meeting to speak against the project.

No one spoke for it, but when The Enterprise posed the question in an unscientific survey in February 2013, 77 percent of respondents said they supported the memorial because the Confederate Army and Civil War are part of our history.

Wilson Stansbury, a Korean-war veteran who lives across the interstate from the memorial, said he doesn’t oppose the memorial because it helps preserve history. Although horrible, slavery happened and younger generations should know about it, he said.

“Slavery was wrong,” Stansbury said. “But everybody should know that it happened. You can’t deny history.”

Meredith Morgan, an Orange native who strongly opposes the monument, believes there’s a difference between passing on history and honoring it. She also said extremists group, like the Ku Klux Klan, have altered the original meaning behind the Confederate flag and that Orange citizens need to take that into account today.

“This is the same flag that was adopted by white extremist groups and has been a symbol of hate,” said Morgan, who signed a petition at the time that sought to stop the construction of the monument. “How do we explain to our children that this monument only represents the divide of the United States in the directional sense? In its best form, the flag is still a symbol of division and rebellion.”

Concerns about the impression the 32 flags will stamp on the town continue to worry public officials and residents alike. Orange County Judge Stephen Brint Carlton believes that the location Block chose for the memorial could be divisive.

“I am aware of the Confederate Memorial constructed on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, a road honoring one of America’s greatest civil rights leaders,” he said Friday. “As an American and lawyer, I recognize the group’s right to freedom of speech and this memorial.

“However, I am deeply concerned about the impression this structure will leave on those living in and traveling through Orange County. I worry it will do more to divide our community than unite it, especially considering its location,” Carlton said.

The location didn’t intend to “stir the pot,” Block said at the time. When looking for a place to build the memorial, he found an inexpensive lot on Interstate 10 for $9,000. Most similar tracts in Orange, he said, run $40,000 to $50,000.

Jones questioned whether the community would be accepting of a memorial that honored those who fought on Nazi Germany’s side in World War II. He suggested there would be an outcry if anyone erected a monument displaying the swastika.

Jones called the memorial a “slap in the face” of African Americans who are still trying to recover from the wounds inflicted on their culture.

“Why would you want to glorify that part of history?” Jones said. “That’s a big question mark in my mind.”



NORTH CAROLINA: Raleigh Marks 150th Anniversary of Civil War’s End

RALEIGH, N.C. — As the city marks the 150th anniversary of the end of the Civil War, Ernest Dollar isn’t just thinking about past events that helped shape so much of American life.

Dollar, the director of the City of Raleigh Museum, wonders about the future, and what the next generation will think about the war.museum1-1024x252

“Will the Civil War creep back into the shadows of American history, or will there be that crazy interest that’s always been there?” Dollar asked.

The museum will host a symposium Saturday to ponder that question and more. A walking tour is also planned for Monday, and the museum is hosting an exhibit throughout April that chronicles the last days of the war in Raleigh.

In 1965, the 100th anniversary of the war’s end featured public ceremonies, “a publishing frenzy” of Civil War history books and the production of toy guns and soldiers for children, said Fitzhugh Brundage, a history professor at UNC-Chapel Hill.

The United States was in the midst of the civil rights movement, and the anniversary of the war that led to slaves’ freedom struck a chord with many people, said Brundage, who will be part of the symposium.

“Southern states saw it as a great way to promote tourism,” he said.

Fifty years later, Brundage said, there’s not nearly as much fanfare.

North Carolina is hosting some events to mark the anniversary, but the recent economic downturn caused the state not to appropriate any additional money for the sesquicentennial committee.

Even so, Brundage said the anniversary provides an opportunity to reflect on the war, and also on the valor of soldiers and the country’s founding principles.

“On one hand, anniversaries are kind of contrived events,” he said. “… On the other hand, we periodically need as a society to pause and reflect on how history unfolded and how we arrived at the moment we’re in.”

In April 1865, the Civil War was quickly drawing to a close. Union forces occupied Raleigh on April 13. The walking tour presented by the City of Raleigh Museum will follow the path of the Union cavalry that morning.

Raleigh narrowly escaped being burned, Dollar said. On April 17, when Union Gen. William T. Sherman learned that President Abraham Lincoln had been assassinated, soldiers stormed Raleigh.

Union Gen. John Logan threatened the troops into retreating, Dollar said, which likely saved the city.

Shortly after, on April 26 at Bennett Place in Durham, Confederate Gen. Joseph E. Johnston surrendered his command.

Changing views of the past

Dollar said he wants historians at the symposium to “look into crystal balls” to predict how the history of the Civil War will be perceived years from now.

The past doesn’t change, but how society understands the past is ever-changing, Dollar said.

The media and pop culture shape perceptions, he said, and the future of race relations in America will likely play a role in how people view the Civil War.

“Each generation writes their own version of the past,” Dollar said.


▪ “War At Your Door,” an original historical musical on the occupation of Raleigh, 7:30 p.m. April 9-10, Garner Performing Arts Center, 742 W. Garner Road, Garner. Call 919-661-4602 for tickets.

▪ “The New Old War: New Perspectives on the Civil War” symposium, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. April 11, City of Raleigh Museum, 220 Fayetteville St. Go to for more information.

▪ 150th Surrender of Raleigh Walking Tour, 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. April 13, City of Raleigh Museum, 220 Fayetteville St. Go to for more information,

▪ 150th Anniversary of the Fight For Morrisville Station, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. April 18, Morrisville Town Hall, 100 Town Hall Drive, Morrisville. Go to for more information.

▪ 150th Anniversary of the Surrender at Bennett Place, April 17-26, 4409 Bennett Memorial Road, Durham. Numerous events are scheduled, including a bus tour of area sites and the anniversary April 26. Go to for more information.

▪ Civil War Encampment at the State Capitol, 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. May 9, 1 Edenton St., Raleigh. Guides will lead tours, and re-enactors will portray Union and Confederate troops encamped on the grounds. Call 919-733-4994 to make reservations.