By Brian Livingston / email@example.com
The Meridian Star
The relative silence in downtown Meridian Monday was pierced by the sounds of rifle fire, Rebel yells and the lyrics of "Dixie" at the Lauderdale County Court House for Confederate Memorial Day.
Members of the Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest 1649, Sons of Confederate Veterans, the Robert E. Lee 2561, United Daughters of the Confederacy, and W. D. Cameron 1221, Sons of Confederate Veterans and the Jones County Rosin Heels 227, Sons of Confederate Veterans, gathered on the west side of the court house to remember those men who left their homes to fight for their government.
Elliott Poole, of the W. D. Cameron Camp 1221, SCV, said it was important to keep the memories of the men who fought for the South.
"We are here today to remember those who fought and died for what they believed," Poole said.
Confederate Memorial Day is a state holiday in some states in the United States. It gives people a chance to honor and remember the Confederate soldiers who died or were wounded during the American Civil War during the 1860s. Confederate Memorial Day is a state holiday in Alabama, Florida, and Georgia on the fourth Monday in April. In Mississippi it is observed on the last Monday in April. In South Carolina and North Carolina it falls on May 10.
During the years in which the actual war started on April 12, 1861, at Fort Sumter in South Carolina until the last cease-fire was signed at Fort Towson, Okla., on June 23, 1865, it is estimated that more than 600,000 soldiers died. About 260,000 of those were Confederates.
Rev. Chris Gully said the Civil War was a time in which tens of thousands of men felt compelled to seek comfort in the Christian beliefs in which they were raised. Gully said it is no wonder that in the decades following the war, the South was termed the Bible Belt based on the staunch Christian foundations that came from the conflict.
"The Southern army was the first to employ chaplains because the leaders, such as Gen. Lee, saw the importance of giving his men the opportunity to worship God," Gully said. "Many viewed the Southern soldier as a bunch of Godless, backwoods men but actually they were almost all raised in churches."
The role of chaplains in America's military branches today can be traced to the South's insistence in giving their soldiers exposure to religion.
At the end of the ceremony taps was played as a volley of gunfire from the Jones County Rosin Heels 227, SCV, reverberated among the buildings in the downtown area. A wreath commemorating the fallen was placed at the foot of the Confederate Soldier's Statue on the court house grounds.
Local musician, Britt Gully, led the group with a rendering of "Dixie" that closed the memorial.