Christ Church continues to restrict our traditional solemn ceremony at the mass Confederate grave. Gone is the firing of volleys by re-enactors over the mass grave while prayers were being said. Four years ago we were told that our sermon and prayers at the church service had to be pre-approved by the clergy at Christ Church, i.e., censorship. Further, no Confederate flags or uniforms were to be permitted on the church grounds and no Confederate regalia could be displayed on any person that could be viewed at 30 feet. Despite these limitations, the Gen. Samuel Cooper Chapter MOS&B Commander, J.J. Smith, led the May 24th Gravesite Service at Christ Church that began at 5:45 pm. Acting Adjutant, Bill Price, read each name of a Confederate soldier interred, and MOS&B First Lieutenant, Jim Becker, handed to our participants a rose for each soldier to be placed at the mass gravesite. Ray Rooks led the Maryland Color Guard who stood on the sidewalk outside of the cemetery per the restrictions set by Christ Church. This actually draws positive attention to our service as the flags are easy to spot by the passing cars and those walking by.
Alexandria where Fr. John Roddy again welcomed us to his church. Uniforms, flags, and regalia were not a problem. In fact he volunteered to deliver the sermon and bless the banners. His sermon was more than merely memorable. It presented in very direct language the truth and undistorted facts about the WTBS from the eulogy at the funeral for a Louisiana bishop who prior to the war was educating his slaves for eventual freedom.
At the beginning of the service Fr. John and those present sang three of the eight verses of God Save the South. You could feel the emotion present. At the end of the service our Confederate flags and banners were personally blessed and sprinkled with Holy Water at the chancel rail.
Following the service we enjoyed the fellowship of 39 members and guests at our BBQ in the St. Andrew undercroft hosted by the R.E. Lee Camp. Commander Becker presented Carl Fenton with a pin, card, and certificate that establishes him as a Friend of the camp and the SCV. We were delighted to meet Mimi (Air Force Col. Mae Etta Friel (RET)), Julie & Don Slagle, Andrew & Virginia Roesell and family, and potential members Michael Mayfield and Alex Habighorst who attend St. Andrew & St. Margarets.
All of the evening’s pictures can be viewed by doing a Ctrl+Click on the following link: share.shutterfly.com/action/welcome?sid=1AZNmLZq2YtW9u (you do not need to set up account to view the pictures) then click on Play Slideshow.
The Camp and Chapter May 24th Gravesite Service began at 5:30 pm, was well attended and supported by Rob Hodge and Color Sergeant Ray Rooks leading the Maryland Color Guard.
A video of the service can be viewed on YouTube at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VjxtoX_uhfs All of the picturestaken can be viewed by doing a Ctrl+Click on the following link: share.shutterfly.com/action/welcome?sid=1AZNmLZq2YtWOd then click on View Album and then click on Play Slideshow.
For the first time since 1979 the RE Lee Camp held its service at a church other than Christ Church, Alexandria. This year we were graciously hosted by The Anglican Catholic Church of St. Andrew & St. Margaret of Scotland in the Delray section of Alexandria.
Perhaps five years ago Christ Church prohibited our traditional solemn ceremony at the mass Confederate grave from firing volleys by re-enactors over the mass grave while prayers were being said. Two years ago we were then told that our sermon and prayers at the church service had to be pre-approved by the clergy at Christ Church, i.e., censorship. Further, no Confederate flags or uniforms were to be permitted on the church grounds and no Confederate regalia to be displayed on the person that could be viewed at 30 feet. Fr. John Roddy of St. Andrew & St. Margaret of Scotland then welcomed us to his church. Uniforms, flags, and regalia would be no problem. In fact he volunteered to deliver the sermon and bless the banners. His sermon was more than merely memorable, it presented in very direct language the truth and undistorted facts about the WTBS and agreements made that are no longer understood or adhered to.
The decision to go to St. Andrew & St. Margaret was a truly unique choice. A former rector, Rev. H. Paul Porter (requiescat in pace) had served as a Commander-in-Chief of the Military Order of the Stars and Bars, and, as a Commander-in-Chief of the Sons of Confederate Veterans. This conflation makes StA&M distinct throughout our Southland.
In the history of the RE Lee Camp and its predecessors there is no record of a Clergyman blessing the flags and banners. This was a first for the Lee Camp. Over 11 Confederate flags and banners were personally blessed and sprinkled with Holy Water at the chancel rail at the beginning of the service by Fr. John while those present sang all eight verses of God Save the South. You could feel the emotion present.
Over 75 people attended the Service of Remembrance from the RE Lee Camp, the Davis Camp, and the Stringfellow Camp in addition to parishioners and members of the public. Over 11 re-enactors participated to include the famous re-enactor Robert Lee Hodge and the renown Maryland Color Guard led by Color Sergeant Ray Rooks with: Brain Gehrt representing the Waddell Camp; Jim Dunbar representing the Bowling Camp; Bill Fronk, John Zebelean, Lou Fritz, Dr. Dave Denisch, Bill Atwell, Sam Dutterer, and Ray representing the Trimble Camp. This multiple official camp participation was also another first.
Following the service we enjoyed the fellowship of over 60 who attended the BBQ in the St. Andrew undercroft. The attendees of the service and the BBQ were not all the same, so that we can fairly state that there were over 100 that attended one of the two events! This was the best attendance in the living memory of the Lee Camp. It marked a new beginning for our memorial service.
During the dinner and fellowship a Certificate of Appreciation was provided to Honorary Lee Camp Member Ann Graham, who authored “The Bounden Duty of the Progeny – A History: Robert E. Lee Camp, No. 726 Sons of Confederate Veterans” the the first 50 years of the Robert E. Lee Camp. A Robert E. Lee bust was presented to Fr. Roddy. We inducted Brian Lewis, Shane Blevins and his sons Brenden and Blake Blevins into the R.E. Lee Camp and Brian Lewis into the General Samuel Cooper Chapter. We also awarded Brenden Blevins with a check for his attendance at the Sam Davis Youth Camp. He will report to us on his experiences at a fall meeting.
In the week following, Ann Graham sent the following message to Richard Abell, “Richard: You deserve a big thank you for hosting this year’s service — not only for hosting it, but for making it one of the best services in a very long time. Your church was just right, and Reverend Roddy was an outstanding speaker. I think we all resonated with everything he said, and what a joy to hear someone say those things again. Watching the flags being carried down the aisle was a very emotional experience for me. Everything was just top-notch. Thank you so much; it was obvious that a lot of effort and love went into making it just right.”
I echo her thoughts and praise to Richard and all of those who helped to make this event one of the very best we have experienced in our history.