United Daughters of the Confederacy Memorial Service at the Appomattox Confederate Cemetery was held on Sunday afternon April 7 2013.
The cemetery contains the graves of 19 soldiers (18 Confederates and 1 Union) who were killed in the last days of fighting at Appomattox Station and Appomattox Court House. On May 18, 1866 a Ladies Association was formed to insure proper internment for soldiers who had not had proper burials. The land for this little cemetery was donated by Mr. John Sear, and the land clearing began. Most of the wood for the coffins was donated and men from the town of Appomattox constructed them and dug the graves.
The Ladies Association later developed into the United Daughters of the Confederacy. The Appomattox United Daughters of the Confederacy was chartered on August 22, 1895 with 22 members and was the 11th chapter in the nation. The Appomattox United Daughters of the Confederacy has owned and maintained this cemetery since that time. In April of every year a Memorial Service is held at this cemetery to honor these soldiers and all soldiers who have fought for their country and the causes they believe in.
The keynote speech delivered by Chris Godart of Lee's Lieutenants:
IT IS A PRIVILEGE TO BE SPEAKING TODAY ABOUT THE MEN IN THIS CEMETERY. FOR THIS HONOR I HAVE THE WONDERFUL LADIES OF THE UNITED DAUGHTERS OF THE CONFEDERACY TO THANK AND ON BEHALF OF ALL LEE’S LIEUTENANTS I ALSO WISH TO THANK THEIR ENTIRE CHAPTER FOR THEIR DEVOTION AND COMMITMENT IN PRESERVING THIS HISTORIC PLACE AS WELL AS HELPING MAINTAIN OUR SOUTHERN HERITAGE IN THIS 21ST CENTURY MANY IN OUR SOCIETY WOULD WISH THE WAR BETWEEN THE STATES TO BE SWEPT AWAY UNDER A RUG AND PRETEND IT NEVER HAPPENED. NOT TOO LONG AGO OUR GROUP WAS AT ARLINGTON NATIONAL CEMETERY OVER MEMORIAL DAY TO PAY TRIBUTE TO THE CONFEDERATES BURIED THERE. IF YOU HAVE NOT BEEN THERE, ON THE UPPER GROUDS OF THE CEMETERY, WELL BEHIND GENERAL LEE’S HOUSE STANDS A MONUMENT DEDICATED TO THE CONFEDERATE SOLDIER - NOT COINCIDENTLY THIS MONUMENT TOO WAS ESTABLISHED BY THE UNITED DAUGHTERS OF THE CONFEDERACY. ALL AROUND THE MONUMENT IN EVER EXPANDING CIRCLES ARE THE TOMBSTONES OF CONFEDERATE SOLDIERS BURIED THERE AND WHEN YOU STAND WITH YOUR BACK TO THE MONUMENT AS WE WERE WHEN WE HAD OUR PICTURES TAKEN, YOU CAN SEE BELOW THE REST OF ARLINGTON CEMETERY WITH ITS THOUSANDS OF GRAVE SITES. I WAS STRUCK BY SOMETHING WHEN I STOOD THERE AND THE SYMBOLISM IT REPRESENTED. BY LAW THE US GOVERNMENT PROVIDES TOMBSTONES AT ARLINGTON FOR AMERICANS WHO GAVE THEIR LIVES IN THE MANY CONFLICTS FOUGHT BY OUR COUNTRY OVER THE YEARS : ALL HAVE THE SAME SHAPE, COLOR AND MARKINGS: THE RELIGIOUS SYMBOL OF THAT SOLDIER’S FAITH, HIS OR HER RANK, THE UNIT AND WHICH WAR HE OR SHE FOUGHT IN. WE CALL THESE OUR GREATEST HEROES AND WHAT STRUCK ME WAS THAT MANY OF THE TOMBSTONES OF OUR CONFEDERATE SOLDIERS WERE IDENTICAL TO ALL THE OTHER TOMBSTONES THROUGHOUT THE CEMETERY. THIS REALLY STOOD OUT AS A REMINDER THAT ALL THE SOLDIERS BURIED THERE ON THAT GROUND AND INCLUDING THOSE IN FRONT OF ME HERE TODAY ARE ALL AMERICAN HEROES. REGARDLESS OF THE SIDE THEY FOUGHT IN THEY WERE ALL AMERICANS AND SHOULD BE REMEMBERED AND HONORED AS SUCH. NOT FORGOTTEN OR BE A MERE TWO PAGE MENTION IN A HISTORY BOOK. THESE BOYS EARNED AND DESERVED THE RIGHT TO BE REMEMBERED. CONVENTIONAL WISDOM HAS US SPEAK IN STATISTICS WHEN WE MENTION THE DEAD OF THIS WAR. TO MAKE THE POINT OF THE IMPACT THIS WAR HAD ON SOCIETY WE SPEAK OF NUMBERS OF 600 TO 700,000 THAT DIED IN THE WAR AND THE OLD SAYING “THE DEATH OF ONE MAN IS A TRAGEDY, THE DEATH OF THOUSANDS IS A STATISTIC” WILL NOT SUFFICE. I DO NOT KNOW THE CIRCUMSTANCES UNDER WHICH EACH OF THESE MEN GAVE THEIR LIVES BUT WE KNOW WHAT THEY DIED FOR AND WHAT I BELIEVE OUR HONORED DEAD WOULD EXPECT FROM US. WHAT I AM SURE OF IS WHAT THEY WOULD NOT WANT……..THEY WOULD NOT WANT TO BE SEEN AS VICTIMS OF A MISGUIDED WAR OR VICTIMS OF ANYTHING ELSE FOR THAT MATTER. THESE MEN SAW MANY – MANY OF THEIR FRIENDS, NEIGHBORS AND COMPATRIOTS FALL BEFORE THE TWO ARMIES MET HERE ONCE AGAIN. THEY SAW FRIENDS FALL AT MANASSAS, SHILOH, GETTYSBURG, SAILOR’S CREEK JUST A FEW DAYS BEFORE ETC… MANY TIMES BEFORE THAT DAY THEY SAW THE HORRORS OF WAR AND WHAT BULLETS CAN DO TO A BODY. YET THEY RESPONDED TO A GENERAL’S COMMAND AND DID THEIR DUTY. THE ACT OF GOING IN FIRST IN AN UNCERTAIN BATTLE. THE ACT OF WILLINGLY DOING YOUR DUTY IN AN ENVIRONMENT SO DANGEROUS IS BY ITS VERY NATURE AN ACT OF HEROIC SELF-SACRIFICE FOR THE SAKE OF OTHERS. THESE MEN WE HONOR TODAY HAD THAT SPIRIT OF SELF SACRIFICE AND TOOK DEVOTION TO DUTY TO AN AWE-INSPIRING DEGREE. I HAVE A VISION THAT THE MEN WHO FELL BEFORE THESE BOYS AT MANASSAS, SHILOH, PETERSBURG AND ALL THE OTHER BATTLES… ALL PRESENT TOGETHER IN THAT BLISSFUL PLACE WE CALL HEAVEN AND WELCOMING THESE BOYS WHEN THEY ARRIVED THERE. BECAUSE WE ARE IN AWE OF THEIR GREAT SACRIFICE, COURAGE AND DEVOTION TO DUTY AND EACH OTHER. THESE MEN, OUR MEN WHO FELL ON THE FIELD OF BATTLE, THEIR NAMES SHOULD BE ENSHRINED ON THE SCROLLS OF AMERICAN’S HALLOWED DEAD. AND WHERE THEY DIED, WHERE THEY SHED THEIR BLOOD SHOULD BE SACRED GROUNDS FOR ALL AMERICANS. I WILL CLOSE WITH SOMETHING I HEARD RECENTLY. IT STRUCK ME AS SOMETHING THAT I THOUGHT WOULD BE VERY APPROPRIATE FOR THESE MEN AND FOR THE LADIES OF THE UDC WHO HONOR THEIR MEMORY. IT SAID “A PERSON DIES TWICE……THE FIRST TIME WHEN THE LAST BREATH LEAVES YOUR BODY AND THE SECOND TIME WHEN THE LAST PERSON YOU KNOW SAYS YOUR NAME” THINK ABOUT THAT FOR A SECOND. WHAT I TOOK THAT TO MEAN WAS THAT EVEN THOUGH YOU MAY HAVE BREATHED YOUR LAST THAT AS LONG AS SOMEONE MENTIONS YOUR NAME YOU ARE REMEMBERED AND, IN A WAY, ARE STILL A PART OF US. TO THAT END, LET ME MENTION EACH OF THESE NAMES:
MILES CARY MACON
I ONLY WISH I COULD MENTION THE NAMES OF THE OTHER 11 WHO ARE LISTED AS UNKNOWNS BUT IN THE SPIRIT OF REMEMBERING LET ME ADD THE NAMES OF LAFAYETTE MEEKS WHO, ALTHOUGH NOT IN THIS CEMETERY, IS ALSO BURIED ON THESE GROUNDS. ONCE AGAIN THANK YOU TO THE UDC FOR GIVING ME THE OPPORTUNITY TO REMEMBER THESE MEN.