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UDC chapter marks birthday of Forsyth statesman, CSA vet
Iron Cross of Honor placed at Bell’s grave
Bell Family.Dean

CUMMING -- Every day he stands outside Cumming City Hall reading a book, but on Monday he celebrated his birthday.

The Col. Hiram Parks Bell Chapter 2641 United Daughters of the Confederacy celebrated their namesake’s 188th birthday at his grave in Cumming Cemetery.

Bell served as a colonel in the Confederate Army, as well as a state and federal lawmaker.

“A lot of people pass that statue all the time and don’t realize that he was a pretty important man in the state of Georgia, as well as being a congressman,” said Monty Johnson, a spokeswoman for the UDC chapter. “He was a very important man, as was his family in Forsyth County.

“We felt it was very important to [honor him] on his birthday, [and] of course it was Robert E. Lee’s birthday today too.”

Among the attendees were some of Bell’s living descendants and Civil War re-enactors.

“[We] had the Hall Light Honor Guard there,” Johnson said. “They are the re-enactment group of the 43rd Georgia Infantry Regiment, and that was the unit that the colonel commanded.”

As part of the festivities, the group placed an Iron Cross of Honor at Bell’s grave. It was originally a medal given out by the UDC from 1901 until the last Confederate veteran died.

“The United Daughters of the Confederacy decided that our veterans didn’t earn any medals or recognition for their service, as they did in the North,” Johnson said. “So these women designed a medal to be pinned onto the veteran’s jackets, and it was to be given only to a soldier that had served honorably.”

The award has since been given posthumously, and can be placed on or near gravesites.

“The Iron Cross of Honor that is placed on the gravesites of some Confederates, they have to have served honorably,” Johnson said. “The Iron Cross is a large cast-iron cross, and it is an exact replica of the patented medal that the united daughters of the confederacy did.”