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Sons of Confederate Veterans of Southwest Georgia to host memorial service Saturday

Ray McBerry to deliver the address at the annual SCV memorial service

Two-time GOP gubernatorial candidate Ray McBerry will be the speaker Saturday at the Sons of Confederate Veterans of Southwest Georgia’s annual Confederate Memorial Service. (Special photo)

Two-time GOP gubernatorial candidate Ray McBerry will be the speaker Saturday at the Sons of Confederate Veterans of Southwest Georgia’s annual Confederate Memorial Service. (Special photo)

ALBANY — Two-time Republican gubernatorial candidate Ray McBerry will be the speaker and an official with the Sons of Confederate Veterans of Southwest Georgia will read a proclamation declaring April 2014 Confederate History and Heritage Month at the group’s annual Confederate Memorial Service on Saturday.

The heritage celebration will start at 9 a.m. at Confederate Memorial Park on Philema Road at the Lee-Dougherty county line.

“We’re in the middle of the sesquicentennial celebration of the (Civil) war, and this year is actually the 150th anniversary of Sherman’s march through Georgia,” McBerry said in a phone interview with The Herald. “Several years ago a bill was passed (in the Georgia Legislature) to protect Confederate memorials, and that bill has a provision that declares every April Confederate History and Heritage Month. Every governor through Nathan (Deal) has signed a proclamation declaring April Confederate History and Heritage Month, but that bill makes it unnecessary.”

McBerry, who won a libel lawsuit against an Albany-based political blog during the 2010 gubernatorial campaign, said he makes a couple of trips to south Georgia every year.

“I speak at events down there pretty often, but I have lots of friends in south Georgia that I love to visit,” he said. “I hope families will bring their children to Saturday’s memorial because there aren’t many places where young people are being told the true history of our country. When I speak, I always like to make a connection with where we are in America today. It’s important to connect the past with the present.”

McBerry said he has no political plans for 2014, but he hasn’t ruled out a future run for elected office.

“I’m a Christian, and I do what the Lord wants me to do,” he said. “And while I don’t intend to talk about any future plans at this time, I do feel that I’ll most likely run for office again. I won’t say what office at this time.”

Glynn Cobb, commander of the Stewart-Webster SCV Camp, will read the proclamation declaring April Confederate History and Heritage Month in Southwest Georgia. The proclamation reads, in part:

“Whereas, the state of Georgia has long cherished her Confederate history, heritage and culture and the great leaders, soldiers and civilians who made sacrifices on behalf of the Confederate cause, and …

“Whereas the residents of Southwest Georgia have a noble lineage in their Confederate ancestors who honorably and heroically took up arms to secure liberty for their country, the Confederate States of America, and in defense of and protection for their homes and families against an unconstitutional, illegal, criminal and immoral invasion by the armies of the United States of America under the misguided direction and tyranny, despotism, dictatorship and treachery of Abraham Lincoln and numerous other Northern industrialists, radicals and fanatics; and …

“Whereas, Confederate Memorial Day has been celebrated in Southwest Georgia for 148 years …

“Therefore, we, the Sons of Confederate Veterans of Southwest Georgia, do hereby proclaim April 2014 as ‘Confederate History and Heritage Month’ in Southwest Georgia and encourage all residents and citizens to increase their knowledge of the role played by Southwest Georgia and the state of Georgia in the Confederate States of America and in the United States of America.”

Saturday’s event kicks off with Confederate and Southern gospel music performed by the Leesburg band A Joyful Noise. The reading of the proclamation kicks off the formal memorial service that includes the address by McBerry, the laying of flowers in memory of Confederate soldiers and the laying of a wreath by the United Daughters of the Confederacy in honor of all Confederate veterans.

The event will close with rifle volleys fired by re-enactors and the playing of Taps.

James King, the president of the Albany SCV Camp, said Confederate principles and values remain important even 147 years after the South’s surrender.

“Campaigns all across America have resulted in removing or suppressing Confederate symbols,” King said. “The Confederacy has been the victim of one of America’s most successful smear campaigns. … Constitutional issues surrounding the secession of the Southern states; Lincoln’s destructive and brutal suppression of secession; criminal, corrupt and immoral reconstruction policies, and post-1865 constitutional amendments are fundamental to understanding the erosion of liberty and expansion of federal power.

“If Lincoln’s gross violations of the constitution are justified, that gives a pass to later presidents, Congress and federal courts to do the same.”

Saturday’s memorial service is open to the public.