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Story and photos by Susan Larson

The Ladies’ Memorial Association of Fredericksburg held their 149th Memorial Day Observance at Fredericksburg Confederate Cemetery on May 25, 2015.

The association was founded on May 10, 1866, for the sole purpose of honoring the Confederate soldiers buried in the cemetery and caring for their graves. Some of the 20 current members trace their participation back generations.

“My relationship with the association goes back four generations,” said Betsy Powers Armitage, whose great aunt was an original member.

Confederate flags marked graves and flew throughout the cemetery, but they were not meant as a current day political statement, members of the association said. “It’s a part of our history, and it represents the bravery and devotion of the Southern boys,” Powers Armitage said. She said display of the flag by the ladies’ association is not an idealization of the past.

Some people denounce the Confederate flag as an emblem of racism and oppression, and its display is often controversial. The Virginia Flaggers display of a Confederate flag along I-95 in Stafford County was called “a hostile statement” by Anthony Sanchez in a story by The Washington Post.

The United States Supreme Court is currently considering if Texas is discriminating against free speech by not allowing state license plates to depict a Confederate flag, as sought by the Texas Division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans.

Owned and maintained by the ladies’ association, the Fredericksburg Confederate Cemetery was dedicated in May 1870 to the 3,553 Confederates killed on four Fredericksburg-area battlefields and reinterred in the cemetery. Those who were identified are in individual graves. Those unknown are buried under the Monument of the Confederate Dead.

Photo Captions

Photo One: The grave of J. H. Hargis of Mississippi in the Fredericksburg Confederate Cemetery.

Photo Two: Ann Howard and John Tole of “Evergree Shade” provided prelude and postlude music of the Confederacy.

Photo Three: A member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, who participated in the Memorial Day 2015 ceremony.

Photo Four: The identified Confederate soldiers are buried in individual graves in the Fredericksburg Confederate Cemetery.

Photo Five: Sons of Confederate Veterans provided Massing of the Colors.

Photo Six: Sons of Confederate Veterans provided the volley salute.

Photo Seven: Those unknown are buried under the Monument of the Confederate Dead.

More from Memorial Day 2015 in Fredericksburg, Va.

Thousands Attend 20th Annual Fredericksburg National Cemetery Luminaria

Memorial Day Events in the Fredericksburg Area

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