Symbols that honor the memory of the Confederacy and the men who died wearing Southern gray are under attack across the country, retired Army Lt. Col. David J. King Sr. told those in attendance yesterday at the annual Confederate Heritage Celebration at Arlington National Cemetery.
A crowd of about 300 heard Col. King, of Bethesda, give the keynote address at the ceremony, which is held each year to honor the more than 133,800 who died in the Civil War and to celebrate the 195th birthday of Confederate President Jefferson Davis.
“Thank you, Lord, for the men who gave their lives for their country,” said Chaplain Daniel J. Buckingham Jr., adding a prayer that never again shall “countrymen fight against countrymen.”
Col. King told the gathering that pornography, pro-communist teachings in schools and an antifamily bias in the culture are crippling American society.
“They’ve infected education in every way,” Mr. King said.
In many Southern states, he said, anti-American groups are protesting memorials to historic and Confederate people and causes.
“We must fight to keep our rights,” he said.
After Col. King’s speech, the Confederate Memorial Committee of the District of Columbia gave a special award to his son, Maj. David J. King Jr., who was hospitalized for five weeks after the September 11 attacks. He worked in the Pentagon.
Maj. King said two in his office were killed by the crash and that 17 were killed and fell around him from the floor above.
Yesterday’s ceremony took place around the base of the Confederate Monument presented to the United States on June 4, 1914, by the United Daughters of the Confederacy.
Tombstones of Confederate soldiers and their wives surround the monument.
At each stone was a small Confederate flag, which had to be removed when the program ended.
The 31-foot monument is topped by the goddess Athena. Encircling the main monument are carvings of Confederate soldiers, including a black soldier, leaving their families.
Also, Athena is shown lifting Lady Liberty, who has been pulled down by a shield emblazoned with the word “Constitution.”
About 50 wreaths from Confederate organizations in the District and 13 states were displayed while the John F. Nicoll Pipes and Drums, of Towson, Md., played the bagpipes and drums.
They also played for the presentation of the colors: the U.S. flag, the Confederate flag, and a flag with two red and one white stripes and seven stars.
The Tuscarora Brass Band played “The Star-Spangled Banner” and the Confederate anthem, “Dixie.” The audience stood and sang both anthems.
Three cannon blasts, which shook the ground, concluded the program.