LEESBURG, Ga. -- Hundreds of spectators and members of Southwest Georgia Sons of Confederate Veterans camps and United Daughters of the Confederacy chapters are expected to gather here Saturday at the Confederate Memorial Park off Philema Road for the annual Confederate Memorial Day observance.
Russell Ottens, commander of the Sylvester SCV camp, will be the featured speaker at the event that will include a musical tribute to the Confederacy, a placing of flowers around the park's monument during a calling of the order of secession and a volley of gunfire fired by Confederate re-enactors as a salute to veterans of the Civil War.
"It's a sincere gathering of people who want to honor their relatives for the hardships they endured during the (U.S. Civil) War," Albany SCV Camp Commander Marvin Mixon said. "Members of the organization are people who had relatives who served during the war.
"I had a great grandfather who served the Confederacy for four years. He survived; many didn't."
The annual observance, which is hosted by the Albany Sons of Confederate Veterans camp, has been held in the region since 1988. The ceremony was moved to the Lee County Confederate Memorial Park after its completion in 2000.
"We hold the observance to remember and honor our ancestors for the sacrifices and hardships they endured," Albany SCV Camp Lt. Commander James King said. "April is celebrated as Confederate history and heritage month because the war began and ended in the month of April.
"We've always felt the need to hold a Confederate Memorial service because the history books have not presented the history of the Confederacy in a fair and impartial manner."
Saturday's activities kick off at 9 a.m. with an hour of music by Marvin Mosteller and his band A Joyful Noise. After Mixon's opening remarks and an invocation by W.H. Phillips of the Baker County SCV camp, pledges will be given to the American and Georgia flags and a salute offered to the flag of the Confederacy.
Tommy Ethell of the Baker County camp will sing "Dixie" as a prelude to a reading of charges to civilians of the South, which will be given by Bob Ball of the Calhoun County camp. Following a musical tribute, Glenn Cobb of the Stewart-Webster camp will read a Confederate history and heritage month proclamation.
Ottens, whose relatives fought on both sides during the Civil War, will speak on the topic "Those Who Gave Their All for States' Rights."
Following Ottens' address, flowers will be placed in memory of Confederate veterans of each state during a calling of the order of secession, and the local UDC chapter will lay a wreath in honor of all veterans. Following a salute volley fired by re-enactors and the playing of "Taps" by Ray Houston of the Sylvester camp, Ronald Dees of the Albany camp will offer a benediction.
The Sons of Confederate Veterans is a national organization whose headquarters is at Elm Springs in Columbia, Tenn. The organization was founded in Richmond, Va., in 1896. It is the direct heir of the United Confederate Veterans, formed in New Orleans in 1889.