Local UDC conducts Confederate Iron Cross of Honor grave marker ceremony

Thursday, May 04,2017

The Gen. Edmond Winchester Rucker Chapter 2534 of the United Daughters of the Confederacy (“UDC”) recently held a Confederate Iron Cross of Honor Grave Marker Dedication for Confederate veteran Lieutenant Edward E. Byrd at the Enterprise City Cemetery on Saturday, April 8, 2017.
The UDC Chapter was assisted by members of Clanton’s Battery, 1st Battalion Alabama Light Artillery, Coffee County Rangers Camp 911 Sons of Confederate Veterans (“SCV”) and the 15th Alabama Reenactors.
Laura Womack-Rowell, president of the Rucker Chapter, presided over the Dedication. Colors were posted and the Invocation was given by Chapter Chaplain, Cathy Odom.
President Rowell welcomed guests and introduced special guest, Anne Ballenger, a direct descendant of Edward Byrd.  Ballenger, a member of Loudoun 170 Chapter in Leesburg, Va., had obtained the Cross of Honor for her great-great grandfather’s grave.
Other Byrd descendants in attendance were Tommye Byrd and Katherine Hogue; both are descendants of Edward’s brother, Thomas Byrd, also buried in the Enterprise City Cemetery.
UDC and SCV members gave a moving Roll Call, naming each known Confederate veteran interred in the cemetery. Confederate battle flags had been previously placed beside the 41 Confederate veterans’ headstones.
The Confederate Iron Cross of Honor is an outgrowth of the Southern Cross of Honor medal created by the UDC to recognize Confederate veterans for their loyal and honorable service. The Southern Cross of Honor was adopted in 1898, with the first Cross being bestowed on a Confederate veteran in Georgia. The grave marker was later adopted as a symbol to be placed on the graves of Confederate veterans who served honorably in the War Between the States.
Ballenger gave a brief summary of the life of her Confederate ancestor. Edward Elisha Byrd was born August 22, 1838 in Dale County, Alabama to Benjamin Bertis and Mary Andrews Byrd and was one of eight children born to the couple. He married Miss Mary Emmaline Jolley on the 22nd of December 1859.
When war broke out Edward and two of his brothers, Stephen Curtis and Thomas Andrew enlisted in Company I, 33rd Regiment, Alabama infantry.  Edward stayed in the same unit throughout the war serving at Missionary Ridge, the Battle of Chickamauga, the Atlanta Campaign and ending with the Battle of Franklin where he was taken prisoner and sent to Johnson’s Island in Ohio, a prisoner-of-war camp exclusively for Southern officers. He returned to his farm and family in Dale County at the close of war.
She said that her great-great grandfather did the same thing that our ancestors did; they accepted their lot with grace, rebuilt their communities and reared their families keeping the faith with God and with one another. This pattern of their lives is a great inheritance.
Using the UDC Ritual to dedicate the grave marker, President Rowell read, “Nothing is ended until it is forgotten. That which is held in memory still endures and is real. We are grateful for the records of the past which bring inspiration and courage. We are appreciative of the lessons taught by memorials to events and deeds of long ago.”
She continued by reminding the attendees of the unselfish deeds of the Confederate heroes and by admonishing them to use this unselfishness as an inspiration for broader vision and finer service, and ended with a quote by Confederate Chaplain Rev. Dr. Randolph Harrison McKim:
“Not for fame or fortune, not for place or rank,
Not lured by ambition, or goaded by necessity,
But in simple obedience to duty as they understood it,
These men suffered all, sacrificed all, dared all – and died.”
Rucker Chapter member Pat Richter unveiled the marker and Ballenger placed a wreath in memory of her ancestor as the assembly sang, Amazing Grace.  Joe Clark, Commander of the Coffee County Rangers Camp 911, read the poem, We Drank from the Same Canteen, followed by a gun salute and the playing of Taps.
The Dedication was closed with prayer by Cathy Odom. President Rowell thanked everyone for coming and invited attendees to enjoy refreshments.