Honoring the Confederate dead

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, April 25, 2006

The Selma Times-Journal

In 1888, the Alabama state legislature established Confederate Memorial Day to honor those soldiers killed in the Civil War.

But, for two decades prior to that, the Ladies Memorial Association was already honoring the Confederate dead, laying wreaths on the graves of soldiers as soon as spring flowers had bloomed.

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Today at 6 p.m., a Confederate Memorial Day Commemorative Service will be held at Old Life Oak Cemetery in Confederate Circle.

“These men were willing to sacrifice the ultimate price to secure their homes and families from the invading enemy,” said Pat Godwin, a member of the Selma Chapter No. 53, United Daughters of the Confederacy. “They are no less important than any other soldiers in any other war.”

Godwin and Cecil Williamson of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, Col. Christopher C. Pegues Camp No. 62, are coordinating the service. The Meriam Beck Forrest Chapter No. 9, Order of Confederate Rose, is also hosting the event.

“It’s important to remember all soldiers in all wars,” Godwin said.

The state recognizes Confederate Memorial Day the fourth Monday of April, but April 26 is the actual date, Godwin said.

More than 30,000 Alabamians gave their lives in the War Between the States, and more than 122,000 residents of the state served in the conflict.

Selma played an important role in the war, with the Confederate Naval Foundry and Ordnance Works located in the city, and a large amount of munitions produced here.

A resolution signed by Probate Judge Johnny Jones acknowledges the “tremendous treasure held in Confederate History and Heritage” and proclaimed April as Confederate History and Heritage Month.

Several reasons listed in the resolution include:

The men of Dallas County served in the armies of the Confederate States of America, some paying the ultimate sacrifice by laying down their lives for their country;

The Confederate soldiers who survived combat, prison and disease returned to Dallas County and served their community and county;

The Battle of Selma was a significant engagement which was fought in Dallas County. It was one of the last major skirmishes before the war ended; and

The town of Cahawba served as a prison during the War Between the States.