Friday, May 14, 2010

2003 Division and National Reunion Reports

By Don Shelton

The 2003 SCV national reunion in Asheville is now history, and finding a single word to describe it remains elusive; “interesting”, “conflicted” and even “amusing” fall far short. However, Kentucky’s praises were sung repeatedly in national and department reports for successes in Castorina free-speech cases, and in implementation of the Kentucky Military Heritage Act.

The Kentucky Soiree’ was a huge success; with three rooms, there was enough space for everyone, and for an enormous 10 x 15 foot 3rd National flag provided by John Bersot. We had visits from such SCV luminaries as CIC Ron Wilson, past CIC's Ed Deason and Rick Griffin, and many, many others.

John Bersot’s magnificent collection of museum-quality flags (with a large number of KY flags, naturally) was on display through-out all the business sessions and dinners.

Kentucky received numerous awards – the most prominent being that the Gen. Ben Hardin Helm camp, for the FOURTH time has won the newsletter award. Congratulations to Joey Oller! Here are some other Kentucky winners: Bronze Medal Dixie Club (Recruiting) - Jimmy D. Reed of the May camp, Dan C. Taylor of the McGuire camp; Dixie Club - Richard M. Smith of the Caudill camp; Commander-in-Chief's Award (presented to those individuals for performing exceptional duty on behalf of the C-I-C during his term of office) Jerry Wells Jr. of the Caudill camp; Distinguished Service Medal (presented for outstanding service to the SCV) William A. Lyons of the Arthur camp, and R. Burl McCoy of the Breckinridge camp.

Kentucky had more camps than ever (9) attend this year’s convention. We had representatives from the John C. Breckinridge, John Hunt Morgan, Andrew Jacksonl May, Pvt. Edward Arthur, Eli M. Bruce, Gen. Roger Hanson, John P. McGuire, Eastern KY Partisan Rangers, and Capt. Thomas Henry Hines camps. Next year’s convention is in Dalton, Georgia, and Kentucky should make every effort to be well represented again. Thanks to our delegates for giving of their time and money to make sure that Kentucky’s voice was heard.

As for the convention business itself; normally the opening session is greetings and reports – important, but rather predictable and ho-hum. This year was different. Instead of glossing over some of the internal strife our organization has experienced this past year, the CIC gave a detailed report on exactly what happened concerning his suspension of ANV commander Charles Hawks, the disloyal group calling itself the “Save the SCV”, and for the first time showed proof of an attempt by some past commanders-in-chief to boycott GEC meetings in order to prevent a quorum so that business could not be done. Obviously, this is probably the first time many members have heard about some of the internal political gamesmanship which goes on at the national level of the SCV. This report was delivered in typical straightforward Ron Wilson style. The report received a standing ovation, and the next day the convention voted that the report, and the actions of the CIC, be approved and took the unprecedented action of voting that the report be published in the Confederate Veteran.

The rest of the business sessions were disappointing, wherein most of our business didn’t even get voted on. Fortunately the evening ball on Saturday restored our spirits. Mort Kunsler was there, and very interesting to meet, but the highlight of the entire convention was to have Ron Maxwell, writer, director and producer of Gods and Generals and Gettysburg speak to us. This is a man who understands Southerners, and understands what truly motivated our ancestors in their quest for a nation of their own. It was tremendously refreshing to hear this voice from Hollywood. Afterwards, this writer was able to speak briefly with Mr. Maxwell. Upon our confession to him of the movie bringing tears to our eyes, Ron Maxwell said that the production staff kept crying as they were editing the movie, even after many viewings. Mr. Maxwell said this puzzled him, since usually by that point they are pretty familiar with the movie. He said that they finally concluded that it continued to make them cry because it was real. Southerners have a dear friend in Ron Maxwell. The ball concluded with our traditional singing of “Good Ol’ Rebel”, “Bonnie Blue Flag” (including the Kentucky verse), Dixie and Auld Ang Syne. While disappointing in some respects, the convention allowed for the renewal of old and dear friendships, and for the making of new ones. It is a unique experience every member should have.

Originally Published in the Spring 2004 The Lost Cause

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