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SCV plans memorial service

Photo by Casey Dixon

Photo by Casey Dixon

ALBANY, Ga. -- In observance of Confederate History and Heritage Month in the state of Georgia, the Albany-based Sons of Confederate Veterans Camp 141 will hold a memorial service at the Confederate Memorial Park on Philema Road Saturday.

The occasion will include a mixture of solemn tribute to the men and women who served and died during the American Civil War and the performance of era-specific hymns and Confederate songs by an ensemble that specializes in that type music.

"It is entirely fitting, proper and appropriate that we should gather to pay tribute to the Confederate veterans and to the civilian population of the South who also contributed and sacrificed so much during the years of 1861-1865 and in the Reconstruction years that followed," SCV Camp 141 Commander James King said.

"We should not only pay tribute to great Southern leaders and heroes like Jefferson Davis, Alexander Stephens, Robert E. Lee, Thomas Jonathan "Stonewall" Jackson and Nathan Bedford Forrest, but let us also remember the lesser-known officers and enlisted men who formed the backbone of the army in gray."

In addition to the presentation of the order of secession by the Confederate states and the laying of flowers to honor fallen Southerners, Saturday's program will also feature a speech by King and musical tribute by the band A Joyful Noise.

"The three original members of the band -- Martin Mosteller, Ed Ashmann and myself -- were all teachers, and we were all members of the SCV," group co-founder Mike Hall said. "We all played different instruments and decided to get together ... and we pretty much stank. But we started bringing others into the band -- and spending more time playing -- and it's turned into something that people seem to enjoy.

"We did our first show playing for an SCV event, and we've played several shows for the organization since then, including the last three Confederate Memorial services. It's something we take pride in doing."

Mosteller plays bass for A Joyful Noise, Ashmann banjo and mandolin, and Hall plays 12-string guitar and provides vocals. Others in the band include lead guitarist Jimmy Wills and vocalists Lu Hall, Mary Price, Faye West and June Pierce.

Mike Hall said A Joyful Noise would perform a number of old gospel standards as well as "Dixie," "Bonnie Blue Flag" and "When Johnny Comes Marching Home" during Saturday's event.

Also at the ceremony, which starts at 9 a.m., members of the Dougherty County United Daughters of the Confederacy Chapter 187 will present a Military Service Award to John Alton Bryant for his service in both the Vietnam and Persian Gulf conflicts.

"The UDC presents awards to veterans whose ancestors served in the Civil War," King said. "We felt the inclusion of that ceremony would be fitting for this memorial service."

A Joyful Noise will kick off Saturday's event with a musical tribute at 9 a.m. The memorial service that follows will include pledges and salutes to the Confederate and Georgia flags, performance of "Dixie," the reading of various charges and proclamations by SCV camp leaders and a speech by King.

Following the reading of the order of secession of states and the laying of flowers and wreaths, re-enactors of the 4th Georgia Regiment will present a rifle and cannon salute.

King said the public, including those who may not be SCV members or supporters, are invited to attend the ceremony, which comes during the commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War.

"There are those, I know, who say we should not be honoring Confederate soldiers, but those people are usually uneducated about the war," the SCV commander said. "I think if they understood the history of the South a little better, they'd understand our desire to honor our ancestors who gave their lives for a cause they believed in.

"Imagine if America had lost the Revolutionary War and we were all British subjects. We would still recognize and honor the heroes who fought and died seeking our country's independence. That's why we honor the Confederacy."

Former Gov. Sonny Perdue signed Georgia General Assembly Bill 27 into law declaring April Confederate History and Heritage Month in the state.