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Monument honors sacrifices, honor seen at Shiloh
The Jackson Sun, Jackson, TN - Saturday, June 4, 2005
By PETE WICKHAM
SHILOH - They had stood side-by-side for nearly two hours in the suddenly-summer
sun. Two Tennesseans, one in gray and the other in blue; one the descendant
of free men, the other a descendant of slaves.
Photos by JUSTIN VENEMAN/The Jackson Sun - Visitors gather around a
monument titled 'Passing of Honor,' which was dedicated Friday at Shiloh
National Military Park. Civil War re-enactors stood as an honor guard
around the monument before its unveiling.
Yet as they peered up at the just-unveiled bronze and granite memorial
honoring those Tennesseans who fought and died on this ground in April
1862, they could only stare in awe and smile in mutual satisfaction.
''I see sacrifice,'' said Clarksville resident Brent Dukes, who portrays
a lieutenant colonel in the Tennessee Valley Battalion of Confederate
re-enactors. ''So many men who sacrificed for what they believed in.''
''Honor,'' said Thomas Johnson, of Murfreesboro. He is a re-enactor
in the U.S. 13th Regiment, a unit of African Americans mustered in Tennessee
in 1863. ''No matter what side, these men fought with honor. The more
I read of history, the more I know that.''
They were among nearly 2,000 who came this Confederate Memorial Day
for the unveiling of Tennessee's first official memorial to the more
than 14,000 men who fought, and nearly 3,200 who died, on both sides
of the line in one of the bloodiest battles in U.S. history.
The statue, sculpted by Texas artist Gerald L. Sanders, is called ''Passing
of Honor'' and depicts a grizzled sergeant gently taking a Confederate
flag from the hands of one dying soldier, while another stands guard
over the pair.
''The man standing speaks by his posture. The sergeant speaks, as does
the dying flag carrier,'' Sanders said. ''They all speak to us of what
Gov. Phil Bredesen, one of a small group of political figures who spoke
at the gathering, said of the monument, ''It is critical that we remember
what happened, by visiting and learning from places like Shiloh.''
He also hearkened to the park's dedication more than 100 years ago,
when ''veterans of both sides came in a spirit of reconciliation and
healing,'' and hoped this monument would continue that spirit.
Franklin resident Deanna Riley Bryant, state president of the United
Daughters of the Confederacy, was in tears as the $250,000 monument
was finally unveiled. It capped 15 years of work by her organization
as well as the Sons of Confederate Veterans, the state and federal governments
and a committee that included dozens over the years.
''So many people worked for this day to honor so many of our ancestors
who fought to defend their homes,'' she said. ''And when the war was
over, many came back, rebuilt their homes and lives - and their descendents
fought side by side with descendents of federal soldiers to protect
this country we all love.''
Kim Parker Davis, whose family built Parker's Crossroads, where another
Civil War battle was fought, used her ornamental fan for a most utilitarian
reason - trying to stay cool in the hoop skirt she wore. Her smile was
one of satisfaction.
''Final respect for these men from the state they defended,'' she said
of the monument.
Dukes was one of several re-enactors who made up an honor guard that
stood at the monument overnight. ''It's not something officers do in
any war - but I wasn't going to pass up this chance,'' he said. ''To
be here, with the stars shining above and candles lit near the statue,
it was as if it came to life.''
Johnson has become an avid collector of memorabilia from that era,
including a pair of slave shackles and a quilt sewn by the wife of Gen.
''Hers is a fascinating story: Married to a Confederate general, and
a father who was a general in the Union Army. To own it is a great,
great honor,'' he said. ''And though my wife has asked why I would want
slave shackles, I tell her that it's one of the stepping stones that
led us to where we are now. They're all stepping stones.''
State Rep. Steve McDaniel, R-Parker's Crossroads, spent time with Tennessee
National Guard Gen. David E. Greer and talked of their great-great-grandfathers
who were both wounded at Shiloh, yet recovered in time to serve again.
McDaniel, who chaired the monument's planning committee, said, ''I'm
in awe of what is finally here. This honor is long overdue.''
A dedicated re-enactor with the Parker's Crossroads Battlefield Association,
McDaniel also knew he had a far more comfortable day in his all-season
wool worsted than in the gray wool the rest of the unit wore - and the
speaker's podium was in the shade, to boot.
''Don't worry,'' Davis said with a laugh. ''We have our association
benefit chili cook-off next weekend. He'll be back in uniform, and we'll
make sure he cooks.''
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