Confederate Memorial Day was observed recently at the cemetery on the grounds of Centenary State Historic Site in Jackson, where 75 Confederate soldiers are buried.
Though Louisiana officially observes Confederate Memorial Day on June 3, the birthday of Confederate President Jefferson Davis, a group of patriotic residents observed the day with a special tribute June 6.
Park Ranger Marvin Steinback, of Port Hudson State Historic Site, urged everyone in attendance to honor all veterans, giving special recognition to those who fought during World War II’s D-Day, its 71st anniversary falling on the day of the Jackson event.
Steinback shared the history of the cemetery and its significance to Centenary, recited the poem “The Soldier’s Grave” and concluded with a brief history of Confederate Memorial Day.
“A group of women in Savannah, Georgia, gathered for Decoration Day, as it was first known in the 1860s, to decorate the graves of fallen soldiers and rededicate themselves to the memory of the men and the war they fought,” Steinback said. “This is the 149th year that this special day has been celebrated.”
Steinback said those buried at the cemetery were privates who fought at Port Hudson, hospitalized at Centenary and died at Centenary from wounds, illnesses or both.
Known veterans buried at the cemetery include: Adam Cagle, 2nd F Company, and S.L.H. Miller, E Company, both of the 42nd Infantry formed at Camp Cheatham, Tennessee; Joseph Bartlett, Company A, 41st Infantry of Camp Trousdale, Tennessee; and Thomas Ellison, Company B, 1st Mississippi Light Artillery. Catherine Jacocks, a member of Feliciana chapter 2665 of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, recited the poem “The Lonesome Four” in their honor.
Also participating in the memorial were members of Feliciana chapter 244 of the Sons of the Confederate Veterans and Louisiana State Militia’s 10th Brigade, a re-enactment group.
Others taking part were Daniel Goyer, Centenary Site director, and Mary Woodyear, a member of Friends of Centenary and of the UDC, who gave the welcome; the Rev. Joy Comeaux, of Jackson United Methodist Church, who recited the invocation; Beth Dawson, who recited the poem “Confederate Memorial Day”; and Sandy Smith, Nanette Stevens and Jewel Williams, who sang the national anthem, “Faith of Our Fathers” and “You Are My Sunshine.”
Flag salutes were given by Thomas Marx, Christian flag; Dawson, the United States flag; Debbie Samuels, the Louisiana flag; and Bill Rome, the Confederate flag.
Violinist Vanessa Mendal performed three songs, and the 10th Brigade re-enactors performed a libation ritual, which involved taking a sip from their canteens and pouring an offering of water onto the soldiers’ graves in their memory.
Mary Anna Leverett, of the UDC, placed a wreath on a monument located in the center of the cemetery followed by a salute, the firing of a cannon, and attendees singing “Dixie.”
Leverett closed the ceremony with a prayer for all veterans.