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Re-enactors turn out to honor Confederate veterans

LAWRENCEVILLE - The Historic Gwinnett County Courthouse grounds went back into time Saturday as a scene from the 1860s.

Saturday marked the 140th Southern Memorial Day, and a Confederate Memorial Day Service was held in honor of confederate soldiers.

Sons of Confederate Veterans Camps 96 and 1724, along with the Northeast Georgia Civil War Round Table, Gwinnett Historical Society, Gwinnett History Museum and the United Daughters of the Confederacy hosted the event.

"This is a big part of Georgia's history," said Chip Wright, lieutenant commander of Camp 96. "This is a time to learn more about the Southern men and women who fought for their rights during the War Between the States."

The event began with an introduction by Joe Bath, commander of Camp 96.

"These men who fought in the gray, fought for their home and their families," he said. "They were good men who had faith in their cause."

Keynote speaker Debra Denard, president of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, told the crowd about women's roles in the war. While men were away, she said, women, who before were only used to seeing to the home, now were gathering to make supplies and to help the wounded. Some women went to the front lines to treat the wounded. Others gathered the bodies of fallen solders and arranged for their burial.

At the end of her speech, she asked for the audience to educate others about the Southern side of the war.

"If we don't tell the Southern side, no one will," she said. "I challenge you to learn about the men in gray. They have a lot to teach us, and we have a lot more to teach further generations."

Camp 96 re-enactors, dressed in full gear, went through some demonstrations, before three wreaths, from the Children of the Confederacy Chapter One, United Daughters of the Confederacy Chapter 18 and the Order of the Black Rose, were placed on the Confederate monument.

To end the service, the re-enactors gave a rifle and cannon salute.

Visitors to the site were able to get a close look at the cannons and traditional dress for the Confederate soldier. Women dressed in long skirts and traditional hats, wandered the grounds answering questions.

"We have been doing this type of service for a long time," Wright said. "We feel that it is not only a time to remember our fallen brethren, but also to educate the public."

Wright said many people have misconceptions about his organization and about the Confederate soldier.

"People often see the Confederate soldier as a villain," Wright said. "But the truth is, many people didn't approve of slaves. We were fighting for our rights, and the rights of the states. They didn't want to pull out of the Union, but it was something they felt was necessary. These brave men and women fought for their country, and we just want to educate the public as best we can about the Confederate soldier and what he fought for."