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Southern Heritage still accepted in some communities

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Commander John Davis presenting the JROTC HL Hunley award to East Henderson High cadet Brandon Baldwin.

The Asheville chapter of the Sons of Confederate Veterans is still fulfilling the charge set forth by the founders of the organization in 1896. The purpose of the group, aside from studying and remembering the history of its ancestors who served the Confederacy honorably from 1861 to 1865, is to give back to the community. The Zebulon Baird Vance camp #15 in Asheville stays busy all year doing events and charitable work in and around Western North Carolina. The 501c3 organization donated $1,000 dollars to the ABCCM Veterans Restoration Quarters last Christmas, and adopted children for the Salvation Army Angel Tree, as well as made monetary donations to Caring For Children, a local organization that fosters and counsels children and teens. The Asheville chapter participates in feeding and clothing the homeless in downtown Asheville each year. “When the Civil War broke out, all of the local able bodied men signed up together, and fought side by side with the other men from their community. A bad day on the battlefield would easily decimate the men of a particular region all at once. This is why we as descendants were charged with giving back to our communities, to honor those who fought and died.” Said John Davis, Commander of the Vance camp.

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Members placing a new headstone for a confederate soldier in Western NC.

With the changing climate toward Confederate symbols after the events in Charleston last summer, it has been harder and harder for the organization to be accepted where it tries to do community work. “We try to do so much in the area for the good of those in need and it is always difficult when we are told we are not welcome because our logo involves the Confederate battle flag. The logo has been in place since the organization formed over one hundred and twenty years ago. We were nothing more than a charitable heritage group then, and we are the same today.”

Fortunately, there are still some areas in which the SCV is still welcome, and for members who are dedicated to giving back to the community, it is always a chance to answer the call.

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Dewey Ramsey and Dewey Ramsey II lead the group at the Brevard Memorial Day parade.

Most recently, the local group was invited to march in the town of Brevard for its Memorial Day parade. Marching down the street, some members dressed in period uniforms and stopping at the Mayor’s review stand to fire a musket volley to honor all those who paid the ultimate price of freedom. Later, Lt. Commander Larry Bradley laid a wreath at the courthouse monument in honor of the Transylvania County war dead. “People seem to understand here that we are participating to honor ALL who sacrificed, Confederate, Union and all other wars.” said Commander Davis.

Along with the parade, local members have been busy awarding local JROTC students with the SCV’s H.L. Hunley medal. The award is named for the inventor of the world’s first submarine to actually sink a ship in combat. The award is authorized by the national JROTC approved awards manual, and is given out by SCV units across the country. “I myself graduated from the JROTC program at A.C. Reynolds many years ago, and it fills me with great pride to give back to the program that had such tremendous impact on my life.” Commander Davis noted. The local group awarded medals to cadets at Erwin, East Henderson and Tuscola High Schools this year, and look add more next year. The medals are expensive to furnish, and the group uses money earned through fundraising at events such as the Mountain State Fair in September. “We spend thousands of dollars on our charitable work each year. It takes a lot of effort to make that money. Every hat or bumper sticker we sell is money put toward our efforts to give back to the community.”

The group also spends countless hours cleaning cemeteries, documenting and restoring graves throughout the area. “We cannot let history disappear, war is a terrible thing, and to bury the history is a travesty that we refuse to allow. It is very encouraging whenever we have others who give us the opportunity to preserve our heritage and give back to our community.”

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