Saturday, May 4, 2013

In July, 1891, when the impressive statue of Stonewall Jackson was dedicated over his grave, 30,000 people gathered in Lexington, Virginia. On the day before the dedication, survivors of the Stonewall Brigade, dressed in faded and tattered gray uniforms, were the center of attention in the town. 

That night when citizens of the town wanted to ensure the old soldiers comfortable lodging, a diligent search of homes and hotels yielded not one of the men. Near midnight the Brigade was found, huddled in blankets around Jackson's statue in the cemetery. Urged to leave the damp ground and partake of the town's hospitality, none of the men stirred. Finally one said, "Thank you sirs, but we've slept around him many a night on the battlefield, and we want to bivouac once more with Old Jack." 

And they did. The next day, 21 July, was the thirtieth anniversary of the memorable battle where Thomas Jonathan Jackson became forever "Stonewall". The day began with a procession featuring a brand-new Confederate battle flag made especially for the occasion. When the graveside ceremonies ended, the Stonewall Brigade fell into ranks and marched slowly to the cemetery gate. 

There one of the veterans paused and gazed around at the land he had defended with the general. When his eyes reached Jackson's grave, he removed his hat and shouted in a choking voice, "Goodbye, old man, goodbye! We've done all we can for you!"

Why don't we get this kind of turn out to honor our ancestors anymore?

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