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Groups pay tribute to Confederate veterans
Re-enactors fire a cannon to honor Confederate soldiers Saturday during a memorial service at Zion Hill Baptist Church. - photo by Autumn Vetter

Forsyth County’s Confederate heritage was honored by members of the Col. Hiram Parks Bell Chapter 2641 United Daughters of the Confederacy.

On Saturday, members of the organization held a Confederate Memorial Day service in conjunction with the local Sons of Confederate Veterans chapter at Zion Hill Baptist Church in north Forsyth.

Several members of the organization dressed in period Civil War-era costumes for the annual roll call event of 10 former Confederate soldiers who are buried in the church’s cemetery.

During the roll call, UDC members were escorted to the gravesites by SCV members. The women placed a rose on each grave.

The roll call also featured three shots in salute from period rifles and a canon from the Sawnee Mountain Light Artillery.

UDC president Elaine Zimney said Confederate Memorial Day was begun in 1862 by the widow of a fallen Confederate soldier.

“She made a pilgrimage to his gravesite,” Zimney said. “Then in 1874, the Georgia General Assembly declared April 26 as Confederate Memorial Day.”

While a main purpose of the event is to remember and honor Confederate soldiers, Zimney said, another aspect is honoring veterans from modern wars who are Confederate descendants.

The group presented three Cross of Military Service awards, which are fully sanctioned by the U.S. military, to World War II veterans Albert Lloyd Wagnon, Jasper Carroll Traynham and posthumously to William Anthony Glass Jr. Glass’s daughter, Ann-Gibson Adair accepted his award.

Zimney called World War II veterans “the greatest of the greatest generation.”

“They are a unique group, a group we’ll never see again,” she said.

Also during the ceremony, the Judah P. Benjamin UDC Award was presented to Myra Holland in honor of her community service efforts.

Holland in 2007 founded the Angel Connection, a nonprofit that helps single mothers. She currently serves the organization as chairwoman of the board.

Retired Lt. Col R. Edward Shelor, a history and political science instructor at Georgia Military College, also spoke on the last years of Robert E. Lee’s life.

Shelor said Lee was held in high regard by both Southerners and Northerners after the war ended, and was instrumental in rebuilding relationships between the sides.

He was also a visionary in education, said Shelor, noting Lee served several years as president of what was then known as Washington College, today’s Washington and Lee University in Virginia.

Lee, who passed away in 1870, also “emphasized practical education,” Shelor said, introducing programs that helped rebuild the South, such as the nation’s first full-scale business college and schools of journalism.

“Lee’s service to our country in the years following the war, in particular to the South, are just as memorable as his war service,” Shelor said.