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[300] future manhood and noble womanhood. Whether the Southern people, under their changed conditions, may ever hope to witness another civilization which shall equal that which began with their Washington and ended with their Lee, it is certainly true that devotion to their glorious past is not only the surest guarantee of future progress and the holiest bond of unity, but is also the strongest claim they can present to the confidence and respect of the other sections of the Union.

Referring to the new organization, General Gordon said:

‘It is political in no sense, except so far as the word “political” is a synonym of the word “patriotic.” It is a brotherhood over which the genius of philanthropy and patriotism, of truth and justice will preside; of philanthropy, because it will succor the disabled, help the needy, strengthen the weak, and cheer the disconsolate; of patriotism, because it will cherish the past glories of the dead Confederacy and transmute them into living inspirations for future service to the living Republic; of truth, because it will seek to gather and preserve, as witnesses for history, the unimpeachable facts which shall doom falsehood to die that truth may live; of justice, because it will cultivate national as well as Southern fraternity, and will condemn narrow-mindedness and prejudice and passion, and cultivate that broader and higher and nobler sentiment which would write on the grave of every soldier who fell on our side, “Here lies an American hero, a martyr to the right as his conscience conceived it.” ’

The reunions, thus happily inaugurated, became at once popular and have been held every year except the first appointment at Birmingham, Alabama, which was postponed from 1893 to 1894. No event in the South is comparable in widespread interest to these reunions. Only the large cities have been able to entertain the visitors, which range in number between fifty thousand and one hundred thousand.

The greatest of all gatherings was at Richmond, Virginia, June 30, 1907, when the superb monument to the only President of the Confederacy was unveiled. There were probably a hundred thousand people at the dedication. An idea of the magnitude of these reunion conventions and the interest in them may be had by reference to that held in Little Rock, Arkansas, in May, 1911, a city of a little more than thirty thousand inhabitants, wherein over a hundred thousand visitors were entertained during the three days.

No finer evidences of genuine patriotism can be found than in the proceedings of these conventions. In fact, there are no more faithful patriots. The Gray line of 1911 is not yet so thin as the press contributions make it. True, the veterans are growing feeble, but the joy of meeting comrades with whom they served in Camp and battle for four years—many of whom had not seen one another in the interim—is insuppressible. It is not given to men in this life to become more attached to each other than are the Confederates. They had no pay-roll to look to, and often but scant rations, which they divided unstintedly. And their defeat increased their mutual sympathy.

Yet, on the other hand, there is a just appreciation of their adversaries. The great body of Confederate veterans esteem the men who fought them, far above the politician. They look confidently to the better class of Union veterans to cooperate with them in maintaining a truthful history. Maybe the time will come when the remnant of the soldiers, North and South, will confer together for the good of the country.

The Confederates have not pursued the excellent method of rotation in office in their organization, as have the Grand Army comrades. General John B. Gordon sought to retire repeatedly, but his comrades would not consent. At his death General Stephen D. Lee, next in rank, became commander-in-chief. It was a difficult place to fill, for there never was a more capable and charming man in any place than was General Gordon as commander-in-chief. However, General Lee was so loyal, so just, and so zealous a Christian that he grew rapidly in favor, and at his death there was widespread sorrow. He was succeeded by General Clement A. Evans, of Georgia, who possessed the same high qualities of Christian manhood, and he would have been continued through life, as were his predecessors, but a severe illness, which affected his throat, made a substitute necessary, so he and General W. L. Cabell, commander of the Trans-Mississippi Department from the beginning—their rank being about equal—were made honorary commanders-in-chief for life, and General George W. Gordon, a member of Congress from Tennessee, was chosen as active commander-in-chief in 1910. Generals Gordon, Cabell, and Evans died in. 1911. Each had a military funeral in which U. S. Army officials took part.

Within a score of years there had developed a close and cordial cooperation between the veterans and such representative Southern organizations as the Confederated Southern Memorial Association, the United Sons of Confederate Veterans, and the United Daughters of the Confederacy. All are devoted to the highest patriotic ideals.

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