A color guard marches into Cedar Hill Cemetery with the flags during the Memorial Day ceremony held Saturday by Suffolk Chapter 173 of the United Daughters of the Confederacy. (R.E. Spears III/Suffolk News-Herald)

A Confederate memorial

Published 1:39am Sunday, May 25, 2014

The crack of a 21-gun salute punctuated a Memorial Day ceremony held Saturday by Suffolk Chapter 173 of the United Daughters of the Confederacy at Cedar Hill Cemetery.

The event also offered an occasion for the Tom Smith Camp 1702 of the Sons of Confederate Veterans to dedicate a flagpole that was erected nearly a year ago at the Confederate Monument within the cemetery. A Confederate flag has flown from the pole 24 hours a day since it was erected, officials said.

“We cannot forget what our ancestors endured, fighting for our freedom and beliefs,” Kevin Beale, commander of the Tom Smith Camp, told those attending the ceremony.

“We will continue the tradition of honoring our brave soldiers by placing flags on their graves,” added Becky Sharrett, president of the Suffolk chapter of the UDC.

The annual event drew a few dozen people to the dappled shade near the back of the downtown cemetery. On graves scattered throughout the cemetery were different flags representing the Confederacy and the deceased person’s part in it.

Many of the participants and spectators alike turned out in period attire, and Civil War re-enactors provided everything from the Presentation of the Colors to the rifle salute to a rousing tattoo at the end of the ceremony.

The cemetery’s monument was built in 1889 by Thomas W. Smith in honor of the comrades he lost during the Civil War. In 1997, members of the SCV camp named in his honor undertook a four-year project to restore it, according to F. Lee Hart III, who gave a history of the monument during Saturday’s ceremony. The flagpole was added last June.

Referring to the sculpted Confederate soldier standing atop the monument, Sharrett told participants “He will now have his colors standing beside him day and night.”

According to Hart, it was important that local SCV members honor the flag and the memory of those who served it during the Civil War.

“Many of our soldiers fought, carried and bled under this flag,” he said. “Never let it be said that this flag is evil. Fly the flag honorably.”

Beale said there have been no complaints about the flag nor acts of vandalism to it since it was installed in June.

For more photos from the event, click here.

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