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Monday, May 9, 2016

Confederate Memorial Day 2016 In Columbia, SC

On Saturday, May 7th, this blogger once again traveled to beautiful Columbia, South Carolina to take part in the annual celebration of Confederate Memorial Day; an event sponsored by the South Carolina Divisions of the Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV), the United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC), Children of the Confederacy, Military Order of the Stars & Bars (MOSB) and the Order of the Confederate Rose (OCR).

This celebration is the largest of its kind in the State of South Carolina with hundreds gathering to honoring the Confederate Memorial Day State Holiday (May 10th). Other smaller observances take place across the state; from Charleston and Greenville, to Myrtle Beach and North Augusta, and over two dozen smaller towns between and attract anywhere from a few dozen to a couple hundred people in their own right.

My attendance this year marks the fifteenth year in a row since May of 2001 -- the same year that I joined the Sons of Confederate Veterans. Every year it has been both my pleasure and my honor to attend and share the love of my Southern-Confederate historical heritage and ancestry in fellowship with other proud Confederate descendants.  

The Confederate Memorial Day events officially begin with the Reading of the Roll of the Dead when volunteer members of the South Carolina Division SCV, UDC, MOSB, and OCR take turns reading the names of the 18,000+ men and boys from South Carolina who died during the War Between The States. This takes place from the Friday morning before and goes on through the day and night with members of both organizations taking turns. The final ten names are read the next day during the actual memorial service at the State Capitol.

The first service begins at the Confederate Soldiers Section of Elmwood Cemetery with a 10:00 A.M. memorial service sponsored by the Mary Boykin Chestnut Chapter #2517 South Carolina Division United Daughters of the Confederacy. 

All UDC and SCV services begin with the Call to Order and greetings from the president of the President of the Mary Boykin Chestnut Chapter UDC followed by the presentation of the colors and the reciting of: the Pledge of Allegiance to the US Flag, the Salute to the South Carolina Flag, and the Salute to the Confederate Flag. This is preformed by living history re-enactors of the Palmetto Battalion.

Following the presentation of the colors an invocation is preformed with the reading of the Lord's Prayer followed by reciting the prayer written over a century ago by former Confederate General and Bishop Ellison Capers.

After the prayers are concluded comes the recognition and introduction of guests which include members and leaders of the SC Division UDC, Children of the Confederacy, Sons of Confederate Veterans, Military Order of the Stars & Bars, the Palmetto Battalion, and the Society of the Black Rose. This is followed by the introduction of the keynote speaker and address. 

The cemetery ceremony is then concluded with the Placement of the Wreath at the soldier's graves monument, a military rifle salute and cannon salute by the Palmetto Battalion, the playing of *Taps, the singing of Dixie, and finally the closing prayer.  
(*On an interesting historical note, the tune for "Taps" was actually written by a Union General named Daniel A. Butterfield. The tune itself was used by both sides during the War Between The States and is still used by the US Military today.) 

The following photos were taken during the South Carolina Division UDC Confederate Memorial Day services at Elmwood Cemetery.

"Gone but not forgotten"
Those words more than any explain why we honor Confederate Memorial Day.

Following the UDC Memorial Service at Elmwood Cemetery, the participants line up for a three mile parade through downtown Columbia to the South Carolina State Capitol grounds for the noonday  memorial service sponsored by the South Carolina Division Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCSCV). 
This video - filmed by this blogger - shows the parade as it leaves the cemetery grounds. The 16th SC Color Guard and the members of the Palmetto Battalion lead the way, followed by the Camp Colors of the State SCV Camps and attendees.

After the three mile parade from Elmwood Cemetery those who attended the UDC memorial service arrive at the southside of the South Carolina Statehouse grounds greeted warmly by more descendants for the noonday SCV memorial service. 

Like the service at the cemetery, this service begins with a Call To Order and the presentation of the colors by the 16th SC Color Guard and the various camp colors. Then the reading of the SCV Charge. This is followed by the introduction of the guests. 

Next comes the reading of the last ten names chosen from the Roll of the Dead and the pinning of the new SCV Guardians. As I mentioned in last year's post about this annual Confederate Memorial Day service, Guardians are members of the SCV who dedicate personal time to clean and take care of Confederate graves and markers. This blogger is also a Guardian. It is a service that I take great pride in undertaking several times a year. 

After the music and the keynote speaker delivering an address on the importance of remembering the dead and honoring their living heritage in modern times, a three volley military salute by the Palmetto Battalion re-enactors and cannon salute is preformed, followed by the singing of Dixie. The service concludes with a benediction by the SC Division SCV Chaplain and a retiring of the colors. 

These are the photos I took of the parade from Elmwood Cemetery and the SC Division SCV service. 

During the Federal occupation of Columbia in February of 1865, Union soldiers of Sherman's Army knocked over this statue of George Washington, breaking off the bottom part of the cane. The plaque at the bottom of the statue commemorates this event.
The bronze stars on the side of the South Carolina State Capitol mark the spots where Union cannonballs struck the building - then under construction. The old capitol building was burned to the ground in the fire set by Union soldiers in February of 1865.
The only monument to Southern-born Union soldiers on the South Carolina State Capitol grounds is part of the African American History Monument in a bronze engraving depicting Black Union Soldiers of the 1st South Carolina Volunteer Infantry Regiment. This regiment formed in 1863 was largely made up of former slaves from around Beaufort, South Carolina then under Federal occupation. Though their ancestors and ours were foes on the battlefield, a US flag (circa 1863) honoring these men was placed at the base of the bronze depiction by Confederate descendants out of respect for fellow South Carolinians.
Members of the 16th SC Color Guard and ladies stand at the Confederate Soldiers Monument at the end of the Confederate Memorial Day 2016 services.

I am pleased to report that both services and parade were done in good weather and were all well received by the general public. One person even drove by the Statehouse and blew a horn that played Dixie - to the cheers of everyone there. Several tourists even came by to take photos with some of us. 

It was a wonderful day in Columbia, South Carolina to honor the Confederate dead and to honor the positive and honorable attributes of our shared Southern-Confederate historical heritage. Once again I was proud to attend and to share this experience with other proud Confederate descendants and fellow Southerners.

I'm already looking forward to next year. 


  1. Over 18,000 names and that's just from South Carolina. Tough to fathom how bad it was for folks back then. The Taps facts and link bring home the 'brother against brother' aspect of that War. Before it was even over the soldiers on both sides drawn to the same mournful tune. Two sides battling... yet of the same united heart.

    Not that anyone down there is asking ceremony advice from a Yankee... Consider adding the US Oath of Allegiance to the words spoken. That oath is a likely target of the PC fascists and in need of preservation as well. Citizens new or old, North or South need a periodic reminder of what being a US citizen implies.

    The US Oath of Allegiance should really be a requirement when registering to vote but you can imagine the political war over that one.

  2. I just caught an episode of PBS Genealogy Roadshow. A total Northern brainwashing crock where the 'expert' kept harping on the idea that blacks were all forced to fight for the Confederacy. A black man was wondering if his ancestor fought on the Confederate team and the biased genealogist involved conned him into believing that there was no way his ancestor wanted to fight for the South.

    With that sort of PC nonsense going on in a show like that it highlights the constant battle to get the truth out there and continue the Confederate Memorial Day tradition.

    C.W. if you know any black Confederates who could contact that misinformed black man and correct the misinformation it might help.

    1. One person who I think could do a great job of countering just about any misinformation on the subject would be a fine Southern lady named Teresa Roane from Richmond, Virginia. You can find her on facebook. She is a historian and does a wonderful presentation on the subject of Black Confederates - both slaves and free men of color - and she's quite good at what she does. Also she has the best taste in hats of any Southern lady I have ever met. :)

  3. I am the white guy sitting next to the black guy on the capital steps. We had a nice conversation and he was a nice gentleman. I am in the blue jeans, and white shirt. A good time was had by all... I found out later that the state government had 4 snipers watching us. We gave them no reason to execute us. I will be there next year and every year that I can!

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