Camp Wheeler's Next Meeting is on
Tuesday, October 13th, at 7:30pm!
Conyers Olde Town Festival
Fall is thankfully in the air! It is once again so pleasant to be outdoors. In October, Camp Wheeler will once again participate in the Conyers Olde Towne Festival, now in its 35th year. The event will take place on Saturday, October 24th, the weekend before Halloween. This is going to be the last big event the camp will be involved with this year and considering the controversy over all things Confederate as of late, this is a very important venue we need to have great group participation in.
We will need compatriots to volunteer time all day for this event. Any and all participation is welcome and we ask everyone to consider joining us. Please attend our October membership meeting or contace Adjutant Steve Camp or Commander John Maxey for more information.
The Georgia SCV License Tag Returns!
The Georgia Division, Sons of Confederate Veterans is pleased to announce that effective today, the Georgia Department of Motor Vehicles has begun re-issuing the Georgia Division, Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV) specialty plates. After the Georgia Department of Revenue (DOR) stopped issuing SCV specialty plates in the wake of the recent hysteria over Confederate Historical Monuments and Symbols, the Georgia Division (SCV) began negotiating with the DOR to have the specialty plate reissued on the basis of contract law and Georgia statutory law that has been in effect since 2001 when the SCV plates were first issued to the citizens of Georgia.
The Georgia Division, SCV agreed to remove the faded battle flag background image from the plate as requested by the DOR, provided that the specialty plate retained the 120 year-old Sons of Confederate Veteran's logo which represents the core of the organization's charge "To defend and honor the good name of the Confederate Soldier." The SCV logo prominently incorporates the Confederate Battle Flag, which was the flag of the Confederate soldier during the War for Southern Independence and is the most recognizable symbol of the South and its glorious heritage.
The SCV specialty plate is available to all citizens of Georgia. One does not have to be a member of the SCV in order to obtain the SCV specialty plate; and no tag office may deny Georgia drivers their choice of the plate. A portion of the specialty plate fee goes to the SCV and is used to fund historical projects in the State of Georgia such as new monuments, monument restorations, veterans' grave markers, and educational projects related to the Confederate soldier and his Christian values.
For more information about the Sons of Confederate Veterans or any of this year's planned events to commemorate the Sesquicentennial of the War, contact the Georgia SCV at 404-271-8473 or online at www.GeorgiaSCV.org
Welcome our new Compatriots
By J. H. Underwood
Compatriots; Those of you who were not at our August 11th meeting missed the induction of our newest members. They are Mr. Donald F. Meyer (left in photo) and Mr. Barry Joe James (right).
Mr. Meyer joins the SCV and our camp through his ancestor, Private Imsley Kinsaul of Company A of the 5th North Carolina Regiment.
Mr. James joins us through his great great grandfather, Private James Wiley Thompson of Company B of the 1st Tennessee Cavalry.
Please join Commander Maxey and I in welcoming Don and Barry to the Sons of Confederate Veterans, the Georgia Division and Maj. Gen. Joseph Wheeler Camp 863. We are pleased they have chosen our camp to honor their Confederate ancestors.
Compatriots and Friends;
In the Commander’s Comments, in June’s issue, I left out the name of our guest speaker for our July meeting. Her name is Ms. Suzanne Sammons. She will be speaking on abandoned Cemeteries in Georgia.
Here is a short bio of Ms. Sammons:
Mrs. Suzanne Sammons has been working in the areas of Cultural Resource Management and Historic Preservation since 1990. She graduated Magna cum Laude from Oglethorpe University with a BA in History and English and her graduate work at the University of Georgia focused on Archeology. She has directed or conducted research and preservation work on more than 300 18th, 19th, and 20th century burial grounds in the Southeast and has been a consultant for many Community, Church and Family cemeteries. She is a long term advisor to the Douglas County Cemetery and Preservation Commission and guides preservation activities for the Counties 67 "legally abandoned" burial grounds. She was the author of the first Douglas County Cemetery and Burial Ground Preservation Ordinance enacted in 1995 and co-authored the revised ordinance in 2008. This is one of the strongest Cemetery Preservation Ordinances in the Nation.
The meeting is at 7:30 on Tuesday July 14th at the Masonic Lodge on Milstead Ave. in Conyers. Hope you will be there to hear her presentation on these sacred places.
J. H. Underwood
An Important Message from the Division Commander on the Georgia SCV License Tag
As you know, we are presently under attack by almost every politician, “news” person, and anyone who can find their way before a camera or reporter. The heinous crime committed by the mentally unstable kid in South Carolina is being used to paint us as something we’re not. We’ve been around since 1896, but that fact doesn’t seem to set a precedent.
We must stand strong and together, there is nothing that would please our enemies more than for us to fight among ourselves. Regrettably, we’re on the threshold of another battle, not with arms but with numbers, with words and with the truth, which is, as always, on our side. We can’t allow them to beat us down, the truth and right will win, but only if we stand together as a solid cohesive unit. The majority of these people are so uninformed about our history, they don’t have a clue about the facts!
We met with Commissioner Riley of the Georgia Department of Revenue, July 1st, and the outcome was, shall we say, less than amiable. Commissioner Riley, was not open to any suggestions presented to her by myself, Judge Advocate Dan Coleman, Division Adjutant Tim Pilgrim, our General Counsel and Past Judge Advocate, legal representative, Martin O’Toole, or Brigade Commander, Charlie Parks. She arrived for the meeting with a preset decision that there will be no SCV Tag with the Battle Flag or with our organizational logo on it. Commissioner Riley and the Department of Revenue General Counsel, who were also present during the meeting, position was they have the authority to remove the Battle Flag and SCV logo solely based on the recent Supreme Court ruling on the Texas SCV specialty license tag. We have had the logo in place on the tag since its inception, now the Commissioner has, on her own stated, that our logo and the Battle Flag “may be offensive to some people”. Her statement was offensive to me, but then I don’t work for the Governor.
So the current situation is that our specialty tag has been pulled by the Dept. of Revenue pending a redesign without the SCV logo. We are currently having General Counsel O’Toole investigating what our legal options are moving forward. We, as a Division, need to make some hard decisions, we either accept Commissioner Riley’s decree to design our specialty tag using a neutered version, not to have any specialty tag at all or if we have legal grounds to move forward with legal actions against the Department of Revenue but who can expect success with that after the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision?
It is my position as your Division Commander and the consensus of the Officers attending the meeting, that if we have sound legal standing to move forward with legal action against the Dept. of Revenue for violating state law. I believe this is what our membership expects us to do, to show strength and resolve with this matter and to defend the flags of our Confederate Heroes.
I request that all our Camps discuss this issue at your next Camp meeting and take a vote on what course of action you would want the Division to take. Below are the three options as we see them:
1. Accept the decree to re-design our specialty tag without the SCV logo. If this is selected, offer a re-design option as well.
2. Cease having a specialty tag. (What would be the purpose without the SCV logo, our members could donate $10 a year extra to the project fund and have the same effect)
3. Pursue legal action against the Department of Revenue if determined we have legal grounds to do so. If this option fails, we could divert back to option 1 or 2.
I would ask that all Camp Commanders contact your Brigade Commanders with the results of the Camp’s vote. I’ll plan on having an early Executive Council meeting the first of August so we can bring this matter before the Division’s Executive Counsel and tally each Brigade’s votes and suggestions.
Another point Commissioner Riley brought before us during the meeting, she hasn’t had any input from our membership or Georgia citizens on her actions to remove the SCV specialty tags with the SCV logo and Battle flag on it. So let’s, as an organization that honors our Confederate Ancestors, let her know where we stand on this issue, please e-mail Commissioner Riley at the following address to express your concerns that she has pulled the SCV specialty tags with the SCV logo, and as usual be professional and polite:
Commissioner Lynne Riley
Live the Charge,
GA Div Cmdr
Camp Wheeler's September 2015 Newsletter
is now available online!
If you have not received your copy directly, it is now available here on the Camp web site from the Newsletter section web page.
Commander Maxey is requesting Volunteers
He hopes that at least two volunteers will talk to the membership at our monthly meetings. Cmdr. Maxey would like each volunteer to prepare their talk on paper to give them guidance during their talk. Then once the presentation is done, he wants the presentation papers to be placed in a Camp binder for other members, guests, and other interested parties to be able to review.
We have two volunteers for July and we are now looking for two more for August. Please consider doing this as it will create a book representing who we are and what our ancestors did for the Confederate Cause.
Camp Wheeler is a Co-Host of
the 2016 Georgia Division Reunion!
By Hal Doby, Webmaster
At our April Membership Meeting, we had a special guest and speaker, Richard Straut, Commander of Stone Mountain Memorial Camp and Chair of the 2016 Georgia Division Reunion, which will be held at the Georgia International Horse Park in Conyers, site of the Centennial Olympic Games Equestrian Competitions, June 10-11, 2016.
Over the last few years, we have had informal talks with Cmdr. Straut and his camp about particpating as Co-hosts for this event. This is a huge venture due to the scope and expense that will have to be undertaken to present to the Division a fine event. As part of that, one of the biggest challenges is to find a venue of relatively modest cost as well as the manpower to host the event.
When we first started talking about this, I volunteered personally to work with Cmdr. Straut as the creator and publisher of the event program. Also, having a ton of experience in hosting large conventions for the foreign sports car community, I felt I could some extra insight into managing the preparations for such an event.
I learned in order to prepare for the event, Georgia Division SCV gave the host camp $1,000 for seed money. In the By-Laws, it's stated that the cost of member registration is limited to $25, then two weeks prior to the event, that amount can be increased to $35. It is also stated that the convention space where the business meeting is held, must accommodate around 250 men.
From the beginning, Cmdr. Straut felt we could have over 300 attendees at the event because this will be held during an election year. From what we are learning, the majority of those attendees arrive early Saturday morning for the day's activities. Only approximately 40 or so registered for a night at the Reunion's host hotel and under 10 stayed at the hotel for Saturday night. It would appear that once the Division's Business Meeting is over, most people elect to return home.
I was at first hesitant to accept the possibility of having at or over 300 attendees. In recent years, a number of Reunions have had well under 200 in attendance, some around 150! What we seem to be learning is that when the Reunion is held in close proximity to Atlanta, the attendance goes way up. That is starting to prove a good assumption because the 2015 Reunion, held at Nash Farms, was attended by slightly more than 300 in an off-election year. Attendance numbers are important because the more that register, the more money we can have to budget for things we need along with a few “luxury items”, things we do not really need, but they add that extra touch to make the Reunion memorable.
The first thing to decide was where to host the event. Logically, it was natural idea to host the event at Stone Mountain Park at either the Evergreen Convention Complex or the smaller hotel directly across from the Memorial Hall and the Carving. The park was once wholly operated by the State of Georgia, but now it is leased to the Marriott Corp under the oversight of the Stone Mountain Park Association. Marriott directly controls the hotel and convention center and they demanded a very unreasonable fee for both the individual accommodations and the convention space required for the business meetings. As I remember, they wanted around over $10,500 (about $35 per person) for the convention space and about $150 per hotel room. That was just too exorbitant!
Memorial Camp then started to look at other potential venues around the area, including around Stone Mountain Park, Decatur, and the Northlake area. I started looking further out as far as Kennesaw to such places as the Southern Museum where the General Locomotive is kept. No venue was found to have either satisfactory rooms/room rates/or adequate space for the business meeting.
For some reasons, Memorial Camp was hesitant to have look in the Conyers area. One thing that was told to me was it Camp Wheeler's turf and they didn't want to intrude on that. Silly Camp, I told them we didn't mind that at all as we are one big family. Then (former) Commander Joe Underwood suggested we take a look at the Horse Park, especially since it is run by the Rockdale County. I gave them a call and discovered that not only did they have a room that would hold everyone for the business meeting, but it was well within our imposed budget. In addition, well under a mile from the facility inside the Park's property is the Hawthorne Suites Golf Resort, a 77 room facility with meeting rooms and a large restaurant area.
I told Cmdr, Straut about this and after looking into it, it was is a dream come true. Memorial Camp has now signed a lease agreement with the Park for the Meeting room and a secondary room for vendor space. They are currently negotiating a deal for a number rooms at a special room rate at the hotel.
In addition, Cmdr. Straut has designed and commissioned a special Reunion Badge for the event. He brought a sample of it to the April meeting. One one side is the image of the Stone Mountain Carving and on the other is the image of Major-General Joseph Wheeler, to represent our camp. Each attendee will be presented one of the badges in their registration package and there will be special sterling silver version of the badge made available for pre-order only prior to the event. It is estimated the cost of the silver will be around or under $50 each.
Commander Maxey has asked for anyone in Camp Wheeler to volunteer for our part as co-hosting the event. Cmdr. Maxey appointed me, Hal Doby, as our Co-Host Chair. Some members have already volunteered their services but for right now, it looks like their help will not be needed until it comes much closer to the actual event.
So stayed tuned for more information both at our meetings and online for more news on this exciting event.
"Confederate Cemeteries of Covington & Oxford" Book is now available!
We are pleased to announce that Gene’s work is now complete and has been compiled and published in the book “Confederate Cemeteries of Covington and Oxford”. The Books will be available at our May 12th meeting for a $15.00 donation to the Camp.