CNS and SCV, Jan. 25, 2006

Published 12:00 am Sunday, January 29, 2006

You might have noticed an item here and there in the print edition (new and improved!) in the past week or so from an outfit called &uot;Capitol News Service.&uot;

CNS is, basically, Virginia Commonwealth University journalism students who are covering the legislature for The News-Herald and like media outlets who are too poor to send a reporter to Richmond to cover things themselves.

Ideally, our staff can take their stories and localize them when possible. This happened for Tuesday’s paper when I saw a CNS story about state plans for the 200th anniversary of Robert E. Lee’s birth, coming in early 2007.

I immediately called Lee Hart, a media spokesman for the local Tom Smith Camp, Sons of Confederate Veterans, to see if any local activities were planned to commemorate the event.

Lee (the Suffolk one, not the dead general), was in the parking lot of the Capitol building in Richmond when he got my call. He had been helping the state SCV lobby for permission to assume control of the Confederate section of Oakwood Cemetery in Richmond, where 17,000 Confederate soldiers who died defending Richmond at various times between 1862-1864 are buried.

Lee said the cemetery had fallen into disrepair and that the SCV wanted to undertake maintenance of the section, erect appropriate headstones and attempt to identify the roughly half the soldiers buried there who are unknown.

&uot;They came from every state in the South,&uot; Lee said, &uot;We want to make Oakwood the Arlington of Richmond.&uot;

That’s a worthy project and I wish Lee and his comrades the best of luck in making it happen.

Lee also mentioned to me the Tom Smith Camp here in Suffolk would be hosting the annual state meeting of the SCV in April at the Hilton Garden Inn. I was unaware of this, as I seem to be about most things, but it’s an appropriate convention for Suffolk, which was one of the few Virginia cities to proclaim April as Confederate Heritage and History month last year and I assume will do so again in honor of the convention.