Although I have attended a Sons of Confederate Veterans (S.C.V.) grave dedication, I had never attended an actual S.C.V. camp meeting and when I learned my friend Paul Gramling would be attending a local S.C.V. meeting in Texarkana, I decided to go. I really did not know what to expect, so the first thing I did was ask if it would be okay for me to attend a meeting. As far as I knew the organization might have secret handshakes, passwords, and might not smile too kindly on an outside, especially a writer, attending their meetings. After gaining the reassurance that I would be welcome, and in fact that anyone is welcome to attend, I made my way to Smokey Joe’s in Texarkana last night for the meeting of Red Diamond Camp #2193 of the S.C.V.
Upon arrival, I was happy to find I knew a couple of people in attendance. I visited with them while waiting for Paul to arrive. Once Paul and his wife arrived, the meeting got underway in what appeared to be a normal fashion. The pledge to the U.S. flag and Texas flag were given and an honor to the Confederate fallen was extended. A prayer was offered by the chaplain ending in the name of Jesus Christ. One of the interesting things I noted during the pledge was that several of the members saluted the flag which is a clear indication of them having served in the U.S. military. So far, these men and women gathered did not seem like an “anti-American” group assembling to rant about politics a raise the old Confederacy up. At that point, the business portion of the meeting started. The business portion of the meeting proceeded much like any fraternity meeting might go. There were discussions about new and old business, new members, visitors – where I was recognized as “the press” – and naturally, an introduction to Paul and his wonderful wife was given. Paul currently serves as the Lt. Commander-in-Chief for the entire SVC organization. If you are not familiar with my first meeting with Paul, you should read the article The History and meaning of the Shreveport Confederate Monument. He is a wealth knowledge when it comes to the history of the war. During the meeting, I learned that this particular camp has painted flag poles in cemeteries as a community outreach and that they provide bottled water to local law enforcement during the summer months. I did not ask if each camp had a specific charity, but it seemed that this camp had a solid focus on serving as they could in the community. I also learned that they provided the cannon for the recent Scout-O-Rama at Spring Lake Park. The annual event brings in Boy Scouts from around the area and the S.C.V. group was able to provide a live demonstration of a cannon’s operation. Again, this group appeared to be very community minded. It reminded me of my visit with the group during a grave dedication. You can read about the grave dedication here S.C.V. Camp Places Memorial Stone in Miller County. When Paul addressed the group, it was noted that he is running to be the highest leader in the S.C.V. organization. While I do not know much about the voting process of the organization, I could certainly tell that Paul was passionate, dedicated, and had a solid plan for the organization. He began to talk about recent attacks on the S.C.V. and how the media often portrays the organization in a negative light. Paul feels strongly that the S.C.V. must start standing up and defending itself, the history, and the heritage. He noted that the recent attacks on Confederate Monuments is just a starting point. He also told about the attacks on monuments to Andrew Jackson and others. He feels that there is a concentrated effort to remove not only Confederate history but also various aspects of the history of the U.S. as a whole. Continue Reading →