Monday, January 25, 2010

Lee-Jackson Dinner

Last Saturday evening, I had the honor of attending the annual Lee-Jackson dinner, which was held by the Pvt. Samuel A. Hughey Camp 1452 Sons of Confederate Veterans and President Jefferson Davis Chapter, Military Order of the Stars and Bars here in Mississippi. This was the first time my husband and I had participated in such an event, and I must admit, it was impressive. About forty people were in attendance, including the commanders of the camp. The guest speaker was the Honorable Greg Davis, who is the mayor of a small (and growing) city here in Northwest Mississippi known as Southaven. Mr. Davis gave a heartfelt speech about how Robert E. Lee has inspired him through the years. He said that people are amused when they enter his office to see pictures of Lee adorning his walls.

Mr. Davis stated that General Lee’s qualities were admirable, and should be upheld today, those being loyalty, truthfulness, and faith. Living here in the Bible Belt, it’s easy to take being Christian for granted, but in other parts of the country, it certainly isn’t as prevalent. Here, it is no big deal to give a prayer of thanks before each gathering, whether it be a picnic, meeting, or whatever. Mayor Davis talked about how the history books have distorted the truth, and sadly, how every person associated with the Confederacy is automatically associated with racism as well. He discussed how he pushed to name a local library after General Lee, and succeeded with a minority vote after persuading the board that reasons were related to heritage, not racism.

The mayor stated how he thought it was important to get involved, and how he did this himself by riding along on a garbage pickup one Saturday afternoon. Needless to say, he so appreciated the sanitation department afterward that he gave everyone a raise! Mayor Davis also talked about how it is important to forgive and forget, to turn the other cheek, and to have faith, because everyone has to go through hardships to appreciate the end result. He stressed that we should not focus on the “what ifs,” but to have fearless faith, as General Lee did.

Following the mayor’s speech, the camp adjutant, Mr. Alan Latimer, led the group in a candlelight vigil honoring everyone’s Confederate ancestors. When a soldier’s name was called, his descendant blew out their candle until the room was left with only three candles lit in the front: one for Robert E. Lee, one for Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson, and one for the Southland, which was left burning.

The group enjoyed a wonderful dinner, received door prizes, and hopefully, left inspired. I know I did. In the program we were given, it discussed how General Lee was a tall, impressive man. To me, he was not only tall in stature, but in presence as well. Because of his admirable qualities, he is still endeared by many today. General Lee resigned his position from the U.S. Military to fight for the Confederacy because he didn’t want to raise arms against his beloved Virginia, where his family lived. Following the Battle of Gettysburg, he wanted to resign his post, most likely knowing that the Confederacy was doomed, but continued to fight after being persuaded by President Jefferson Davis. And after the war, General Lee obediently served as the president of a college in Lexington, Virginia until his death, which occurred only five years after the end of the war. He is noted as trusting in God to lead him, for he was a man of depth-less religious conviction, as well as a master of military strategy. May he always be admired for those reasons, and not be associated with racism or discrimination, which was never his intention.

1 comment:

Walt said...

Probably the best picture of General Lee is still found in Douglas Southall Freeman's "R.E. Lee" and his book, "Lee's Lieutenants [a review of the abridgement by Sears appears on my blog]." Martin Sheen gave a reasonable portrayal in the movie Gettysburg. Being a Virginian, I was struck by his rendition of a tidewater accent, one of the better ones I've heard.