A local woman’s grandmother wrote a poem for Confederate Memorial Day in 1902 that was read by her mother at a celebration in Waycross.
Carol Jean Farr said her grandmother, Louella Booth Harbin, wrote the poem, and that her mother, Fredda Harbin, who was 10 years old at the time, read the poem at the public celebration.
A parade was held on that festive day, April 26, 1902, with the war veterans living in Waycross at the time marching with the school children to Lott Cemetery where they placed flowers on the graves of Confederate soldiers.
“A platform was erected in the cemetery in front of John Lott’s grave and a memorial program was given with appropriate songs and speeches,” said Farr. “The highlight of the program was the poem recited from memory by my mother, 10-year-old Fredda Harbin.”
In those days, and for many years prior and thereafter, Confederate Memorial Day was an important holiday in every city, town and village in the South. Parades and observances were held far and wide. Children enjoyed a day off from school and store-keepers closed shop. Everyone attended the local community ceremonies.
In 1902, a project to erect a Confederate memorial was still some eight years away from fruition. (The memorial statue that stands in Phoenix Park was placed in 1910.)
Here is the text of Louella Booth Harbin’s poem.
Oh I love to live in the land of the South under the soft Southern skies,
Where the cotton fields wave their banners of peace and where the tall pine trees sigh,
I love to listen to the sweet birds sing in the beautiful shadowy coves
Where the bright waters ripple by the graves of our heroes in the groves
I love to listen to sweet melodies that touch and melt the heart
And bring back memories of the past when loves one had to part
But the music that thrills me most is that which died away
On the lips of many a Confederate brave, on the lips of the men in gray.
But time has furled the battle flag and silenced the hostile gun
It has leveled the trenches and rifle pits where our soldiers’ blood did run
The curtain has dropped on the painful scene and there’s nothing left of that war today
But garlands, and graves, and records, dear, of those heroes brave that wore the gray.
Farr said she will remember on this Confederate Memorial Day the men of years past whose blood soaked the soil of the South.
Confederate Memorial Day in Georgia will be observed this year on Monday. A service is set for 5:30 p.m. downtown at Confederate (Phoenix) Park, said Chuck Griffin, the Clement Evans Sons of Confederate Veterans Camp commander.
Local and regional Sons of Confederate Veterans and United Daughters of the Confederacy invite the public to attend.
“Our program speaker will be Georgia Division Commander Mike Mull,” said Griffin.