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Redeemed Sinner. Deep Roots. Southern Heart.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Heroic Father, Grateful Son

I will diverge a wee bit from my series on the Scots-Irish today, to remember an event that occured exactly one hundred years ago today....

In 1908 the annual reunion of Confederate veterans was held in Birmingham. The whole city came out to honor the soldiers who had fought so long and heroically for freedom. Among the visitors was a scion of one of New York's most prominent families who some may have considered out of place....unless they knew his heritage.

Although Archibald Gracie IV was born in Mobile, his roots were in New York city. His father, Archibald Gracie Jr., had been born in New York, but he was a Confederate brigadier general. Killed at the battle of Petersburg, General Gracie's legacy had been passed on to his son by his wife, who purposed that her children would never forget their father. Archibald Gracie IV had been inspired at a very young age to record his father's legacy. So he sent out letters to as many of his father's old comrades as he could find. He met them at the Birmingham reunion. These veterans of Gracie's brigade came from as far away as Seattle, Washington, to meet the son of their old commander.

On June 12, 1908, the first and last offical reunion of Gracie's brigade was held at the old Thomas Jefferson hotel (now the Cabana) in downtown Birmingham. What actually occured, the stories and speeches, we can only imagine. History does tell us that Gracie learned much that day. The veterans of his father's brigade had also encouraged him to continue to remember the deeds of the past, and record them for postertity.

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