Kentucky monument dedication set for May 8

Published 12:00 am Saturday, May 1, 2010

After more than 100 years, Kentucky Confederate veterans who fought in Vicksburg during the Civil War will have a monument dedicated to them.

The newest addition to the Vicksburg National Military Park will be dedicated at 10 a.m. next Saturday, May 8, on Confederate Avenue on the South Loop between tour stops 13 and 14.

The Kentucky Division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans is the group commissioned in 1999 by former Kentucky Gov. Paul Patton for the erection of the monument, which stands 9 feet tall and features the Kentucky Confederate coat of arms and text describing Civil War battles involving Kentuckians from Confederate brigades.

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“We see this as part of our duty to continue the work of our veterans,” said Dr. Tom Hiter, commander of the Kentucky Division. “The Sons are the lineal descendents of the original soldiers.”

The road to the dedication took more than 100 years.

“In 1903, a commission of appointment for a monument was by the governor of Kentucky, but the Legislature never acted to the commission,” park historian Terry Winschel explained.

It was not until the mid-1990s, after the commission of the Kentucky state memorial, that members of the Kentucky Division Sons of Confederate Veterans began to wonder about the location of their ancestors’ monument, Hiter said.

“A lot of us assumed we had one,” he said. “We were searching for it, but couldn’t find it.”

They soon began the paperwork process and raising about $50,000 for the monument, designed by Allan Veal, owner of Aftermath Mausoleums of Elberton, Ga. The Georgia-bronze monument arrived at the VNMP in April 2009, but the dedication was delayed until next week.

Winschel said park officials had set aside three sites, originally chosen by Kentuckians in 1903, for Kentucky — a Union monument, a Confederate monument and a state memorial to honor both sides of the state.

In 2001, a 40-feet-tall and 40-feet-wide Kentucky state memorial was erected south of the Alabama monument to honor its Union and Confederate veterans. Kentucky is the only state with divided governments during the Civil War to erect two monuments; a third site, for a Union monument, remains empty.

Missouri also had divided governments during the war, but has yet to commission a Confederate monument.

After next Saturday morning’s dedication, artillery demonstrations are set for 1 and 3 p.m. at the monument and live entertainment by an Alabama band is planned at the USS Cairo at 2 p.m.

Commander-in-Chief of the Sons of Confederate Veterans Charles McMichael will be speaker during the ceremony, and park superintendent Michael Madell will accept the monument on behalf of the United States.

“This is a day to remember the soldiers and to talk about the sacrifices and commitment of the Confederate soldiers,” Madell said.

This monument dedication will be Madell’s first since becoming superintendent in January.

“It’s an honor,” he said. “There have been lots of folks before me that have accepted over 1,330 monuments.”

The VNMP, established by Congress in 1899, is home to more than1,350 monuments, tablets and plaques.

Contact Manivanh Chanprasith at