1998, 1999, 2000, 2002
The Veterans Administration has banned us from flying our ancestors' cherished Battle flag over their immortal remains, stating that it was a "mistake", that it should never have been allowed to fly in the first place (it had been flying every day for 5 years prior to May 7, 1998 "by the Veterans Administration").
|Pt. Lookout POW CEMETERY REMARKS
June 13, 1998
-by Patricia Buck
On behalf of the Pt. Lokout POW Descendants Organization, I'd like to welcome everyone to this,the Confederate POW Weekend. We're very proud and honored to be a part of this service in remembrance of the some 50,000 POWs who passed through the gates of Point Lookout, including the over 8,000 who perished here.
This is our 7th year for making the pilgrimage to Point Lookout to pay our respects. It's an emotional time for the descendants as we bond with fellow Southerners whose relatives were of the same era and circumstance. We're very proud of the legacy these American POW veterans left us. We're proud of their deeds, their courage, and their endurance of prison life.
As you probably already know, the Veterans Administration has banned us from flying the Confederate Battle Flag of our ancestors over this, their hallowed grave. I feel that someone is missing a very important point here! All veterans should have their flag over their sacred graves, no matter which country they served under or where they are buried. If we have U.S. Soldiers from W.W.I, W.W.II, or Vietnam, buried overseas, I would hope that they've got the U.S. Flag flying over their graves and not the flag of the country where they lay still in their graves, dug because they were defending the United States!!! Why would they want the flag of their enemy over their graves. That's the flag that put ‘em in there to start with! If a U.S. Veteran fought under the U.S. flag, then grant him his country's flag! If a veteran fought for the Confederate Flag, then grant him his country's flag!!
Their bodies were moved 3 times, ending here, rather than individual marked graves, ... one huge mass grave. You think they were all laid neatly and reverently in this burial pit? They were all thrown in there, bones of arms and legs all intertwined with one another and the grave diggers tossed their skulls to each other as if they were on some basketball court! Why can't we have some respect for these American veterans?? If not then, why can't we now? These were Americans, granted the right of secession by our forefather's constitution, who left home and families to uphold that right. It is as if this is one more slap in the face to Southerners, all in the name of reconstruction. My friends, southerners are still fighting reconstruction. It's way past time to end this! Stripped of all things dear to them, lying in a mass grave, with not so much as their own coveted flag to fly over their grave. I'm very tired of hearing that the U.S. Flag is ‘the American' Flag....Our ancestors were Americans, and the Confederate Battle Flag was an American flag. It represented the Confederate States of …what??? America! CSA. What does it stand for??? It stands for Confederate States of America! Now give these American Veterans, their American Flag over their American hallowed grave! These men buried here, they ‘did not' take the oath of allegiance. They ‘never' became citizens of the United States...That's why they died in Point Lookout Prison Camp. They died as a citizen of the Confederate States of America!
God in heaven, may their souls soon rest in peace, for I fear the ground in this Point Lookout Cemetery is rumbling from a great army that is buried beneath her soil, crying out for this one last request of honor, to at least have their coveted Confederate Battle flag over their immortal remains! They took this flag into battle and they were imprisoned in Point Lookout for that flag. They could have taken the oath of allegiance on any given day. They were strong and faithful to their country and her flag. They chose to die in Point Lookout rather than surrender their flag. We want it flying 365 days a year! We should not except any other flag, nor should we except a ‘one day' per year to fly it only on Confederate Memorial Day. That's compromising. My ancestor didn't fight for ‘one' day. Did yours? And, my ancestor was not in this prison for one day. They deserve 'their ‘ flag and this is what we want for them, nothing less is as honorable. We, the descendants don't have a one day flag.
‘Nothing' meant more to those soldiers than their coveted battle flag. During battle when captured at Appomattox River, North Carolina Sgt. George Barbee, who later spent time right here in Point Lookout Prison, wrapped his unit's battle flag around a stone and threw it into the river saying "no enemy of the 44th NC will ever!! have our battle flag! They sank it to keep it from being captured and in the hands of their enemy - the enemy who waved the US flag and declared total war on defenseless seniors, women, children, civilians, and even family pets! At Appomattox, Confederate soldiers stacked their muskets with precision and little show of emotion, but when each regiment in succession had to give the flag it had followed into battle and place it on a stack of surrendered muskets, the tears and cries of pain began. Men ran out from their ranks to kiss their flags goodbye, some tore it into shreds so their comrades could have a piece of her furled banner, many wept heavily and wiped their tears in her tattered folds. Nothing will ever take the place of what that flag meant to these soldiers.
Ladies and gentlemen...these men can no longer take up the starry cross and fight, we ‘have to' do it for them. We owe it to them.
I'd like to leave you with the words from a song by the Rebelairs that goes something like this:
I'm glad I'm from Dixie, where hearts are strong and true
But that dear anthem has been banned - by people just like you
Now you want to take our flag - that ever proudly waves
Over our grandfathers who are turning in their graves.
Now you don't realize - just what you're trying to do
If I could open up your eyes - the truth might shine on thru’
This is the flag - the home- the land - of my dear family and with every
Ounce of strength I'll stand to save their memory.
Why are you, the Veteran Administration flying a US flag over their graves - they didn't fight for the United States. Why are you going to put up a POW / MIA flag over their graves - they didn't fight in Vietnam!
We want "their" flag back - with them- where it belongs and we must see to it that it happens. They're no longer here to defend their name/honor, we now have to fight ‘for' them. Please do your part in helping us return their flag
We hope you enjoy the rest of the service and your day here with descendants of those who in the past, trod these hallowed grounds, endured prison life, and is buried here, beneath the flag of their enemy!
|Pt. Lookout POW CEMETERY REMARKS
June 12, 1999
-by Patricia Buck
I bring you greetings from the Pt. Lookout POW Descendants Org. As our name implies, we are ALL descendants of the over 52,000 imprisoned, and the approx. 14,000 who died here. It seems as if every year when I stand here before you, there’s a new discovered total of how many men who actually died while in Pt. Lookout POW Camp. This monument behind me is filled with tablets of over 3,000 names that the federal government gave us, stating how many died here. A couple years ago, Prof. Bart Talbert stood before you, and stated "Do the math folks, those figures are wrong." The following year, I came across a writing of Dr. Joseph N. Jones. He was a civilian when captured at Isle of Wight, VA and sent to prison here at Point Lookout. Since he had doctoring abilities, they allowed him to work in Hammond Hospital. Dr. Jones, wrote that 8,000 died while he was there. Charles Fenwick, now deceased, who was past President of the St. Mary’s County Historical Society stated that they moved 12,000 bodies to this cemetery. A few months ago, a lady from right here in St. Mary’s county joined our Descendants Organization. She called me on the phone and asked me if I’d like to have all this information that she had on her ancestor who had been in Point Lookout. "Of course," I stated, "That’s what we’re here for, to get recognition for these Veterans and learn the truth about this prison camp." I read everything that she sent me on Pvt. James Albert Spicer, 7th VA Inf. Co. K Mr. Spicer had related a very interesting story about Point Lookout. It was even published in the newspaper in 1948. As you know, there was a "dead line" inside the prison pen and if any of the prisoners were discovered near it, they were shot. You can only image the interest that was peaked for the prisoners to look beyond those walls. Mr. Spricer’s curiosity was about to get the better of him and he couldn’t stand it any longer, so he took the dreaded chance and made it to the wall one day and got a look of what was on the other side of that pen. Picture this, of what he relates he saw: one day I looked through a knothole in our enclosure and could see acres of coffins stacked one on the other. Believe me, that was the last time I looked. Pvt. Spicer stated that 14,000 prisoners were buried while he was in Point Lookout!
I’m not going to give a lengthy speech, as I did last year on the desecration of this cemetery by the removing of our ancestor’s flag from this, their hallowed grave...all I would do, would be to repeat myself, for I still believe and take a stand for everything that I said. I feel that these men have been dishonored by the Vet. Adm.
The Confederate. Flag was first erected by a past employee of the Vet. Adm. who had jurisdiction over this Point Lookout cemetery. A caretaker who had compassion enough for these men, that he took it upon himself to fly their flag over their grave. It reminded for 5 yrs. until the Vet. Adm. stated that it was not in the rule book, that this is not allowed, so they ordered it down. We’re told that this is not a law that has to be passed before congress and you vote on it. It is a regulation maintained by Roger Rapp, head of the Vet. Adm. and upheld by Robin Pohlman, who has jurisdiction over this cemetery. They have the power to change these regulations, but refuse to so.
We have been circulating a petition to gather signatures to have these prisoners’ flag restored. Over 9,000 people have signed it! That’s more than the names they gave us on the monument! Can over 9,000 people be wrong? Why isn’t the Vet. Adm. supporting the wishes of the American people for these veterans? How can the Vet. Adm. turn their backs on the countless letters and phone calls, begging for these men to have their flag back? It’s been over a year and everything has fallen on deaf ears. This lame reply that "these are the rules" are insulting to everyone’s intelligence, when they, as tax payers are asking/begging you to change the rules, that only you, the Vet. Adm. has the power to do. We know what the rules are, we’re asking you to change them, not for us, but for these soldiers who died a merciless, cruel death in a prison pen. A prison pen designed to murder/kill/and starve thousands of human beings. Where is your conscience, where is your heart? This is a unique cemetery, unlike others that contain union and Confederate Soldiers, it contains all and only Confederate Veterans. Why does the Vet. Adm. choose to dishonor so many Americans when so many Americans have pleaded for their last thread of dignity to be restored to this grave site?
You’re not doing us any favors by "allowing" us to fly this flag for 1 hr. out of the whole year. Not only is that out-right discrimination, but is of total disrespect to American soldiers who gave their all in defense of their homes, land, and family. Their flag should be over their grave EVERY day.
Take a look at these men standing behind me. They’re reenactors, portraying their ancestors...they look good compared to what the POWs REALLY looked like when they were here. How can you look at these men and envision about 14,000 of them succumbed to death in this Prison Camp, buried beneath the very ground your walking, and sleep good at night?
This is our family....why are you doing this to us? Robin (R. Pohlman, Vet. Adm. personnel, who has jurisdiction over PL Cemetery) stated, "Let’s not forget why we’re here today.....the men." Do you know WHY these men were in this prison camp?!! THIS FLAG!! This is the flag that they fought for, died for, and was in this prison for! They’re buried HERE BECAUSE of that flag! Why can’t they have their flag?? You stated that you (Robin)were going to paint the fence! We don’t need the fence painted; but, we need and want our ancestor’s flag back over their graves. With every once of strength we’ll stand to save their memory....and we’ll NEVER give up!
|Pt. Lookout POW CEMETERY REMARKS
June 10, 2000
-by Patricia Buck
(This one was short...I was only allowed 3 min. to speak)
Good morning! On behalf of the Pt. Lookout Prisoner of War Descendants Organization, I'd like to welcome you to Pt. Lookout and to invite everyone to participate in the activities that are being offered here today.
It’s always a time of mixed emotions to gather here on the grounds of those who perished at Pt. Lookout. At present we, their descendants, have only one wish and that is...TO SEE THE POWs’ CONFEDERATE BATTLE FLAG 'BACK' UP AND FLYING OVER THEIR IMMORTAL REMAINS.
We know what the Veteran Administration rules state...that only the US flag is to fly in their cemeteries...and this would be fine...if only Union soldiers were here...but this cemetery contains the remains of no other war veterans, except those of the CSA-POWs from here at Pt. Lookout.
We feel that the Veteran Administration commitment statements are an UNTRUTH, for they state..and I quote:
- The National Cemetery Administration IS COMMITTED to serving our nation’s veterans by meeting their burial needs with COMPASSION AND DIGNITY.
- The National Cemetery Administration’s VISION is to provide a LASTING TRIBUTE to our nation’s veterans by being mission driven, results oriented and customer focused.
- The National Cemetery Administration’s PURPOSE is to maintain National Cemeteries as National shrines, SACRED TO THE HONOR AND MEMORY of those interred or memorialized there.
- The National Cemetery Administration's MISSION is to provide a LASTING MEMORIAL FOR VETERANS.
Each one of their own statements: their commitment, their vision, their purpose and their mission SCREAMS for honoring these American Veterans with the flag of their country! Yet, they don’t uphold their commitment to these American War Veterans.
Shame on the Veteran Administration for keeping these men in the ghostly chains of Reconstruction!
We’d like thank the Vincent Camalier SCV Camp for hosting this memorial service and thank 'you' for coming!
|Pt. Lookout POW CEMETERY REMARKS (Uncensored)
June 8, 2002
-by Patricia Buck
... I’d like to thank a very special lady for all that she has done for us here in the PL Cemetery, Ms Grace Pratt.
Most of you know the story behind our battle with flying our ancestors’ flag over their mass grave here in the PL Cemetery. Rick Griffin has tirelessly gone to court several times trying to regain our Constitutional right to fly the Confederate Battle Flag. Last summer we were granted this right to do so for a few months, before they took this privilege from us again. They put restrictive hours on us from 9am until 6 pm, making it near impossible for someone to take on this job. Many of us, including Joyce Bennett and Jim Dunbar made countless phone calls and even house visits, seeking someone who would help us, so we could fly the flag here in the cemetery. Time after time we were turned down because of the hours or that it was just too inconvenient for them. One "man" who lives very near by, "with" an ancestor buried right here in this cemetery and it wouldn’t have been too much trouble for him to do this for us... refused "because" he didn’t want to "get involved" in our flag controversy! I’m sure his ancestor was turning in the grave behind me. Finally, upon the recommendation of our good friend Shirley McKay, Grace Pratt was contacted.
Patricia Buck and Amazing Grace
Ms Pratt accepted and carried out a privileged duty that a man wouldn’t even take on. Grace either walked or rode her bike to and from the cemetery every morning and every afternoon to put up and take down our flag. This wasn’t just when she felt like it. This wasn’t just when the sun was shining. This was done EVERYDAY, whether the weather was bad or whether it was good...and this includes when it snowed.
Grace doesn’t even have ancestors buried here in the cemetery ... but she loves these men and she loves upholding our Southern heritage. I could tell that it truly bothered her when she’d report that the cemetery was in shambles, that moles that tunneled up the grounds, that the flood lights didn’t burn, the grass wasn’t cut until it was over a foot high. And the sincerity in her voice when she asked.. "Why does the sign on the gate read "PL Confederate Cemetery" when the Confederates can't have their Confederate flag?
Ms Pratt not only flew THEIR flag for them and us, she cared for the cemetery as well. The Vet. Adm. does pay someone to come down here and care for the cemetery. But, it’s not Grace’s paid job from the Vet. Adm. During the Fall, we had lots of rain and high winds at The Point. The Vet. Adm. table had been knocked over several times to the point that it’s door broke and wouldn’t close and this cemetery was filled with scattered VA papers, sticks and limbs. A lot of the papers had blown thru the fence and into the woods. Did the Vet. Adm. come down and tidy up? No..., but Grace did.
She picked up all the papers, took them home, straightened them out, stapled them and bounded them together. Then put them back in the book and secured ‘em with rubber bands. She then returned the papers to the cemetery.
Grace Pratt has labored to honor the PL soldiers in this cemetery. Here’s a fine lady who has worked to care for the soldiers’ final resting place far beyond the call of duty.
The Point Lookout POW Descendants Org. would like to present Ms Pratt with the Kath Davidson Blockade Award. Kath Davidson, the Blockade runner, was a lady who was imprisoned in PL for aiding the Southern Cause. She was captured just down the road from here, in Leonardtown. If Kath Davidson was here today, she’d have flown that Confederate Battle Flag in this cemetery. But, Kath has long since been gone, but I believe that the spirits of these men buried in this cemetery sent Grace Pratt to us. Grace ran the federal judicial blockade on many occasions with the battle flag. And, she ran it everyday until the judge made that final past due call and intercepted. Grace is truly our Kath Davidson of yester-year! Thank you and we love you!
Now, I’d like to introduce Rick Griffin...who really needs no introduction. He’s the past Commander in Chief of the SCV and JB has informed me that his new title is Defender In Chief. This, I would heartily agree. Rick’s also a long time member of our Descendants Org. I’d like to mention that today, I handed Rick our Flag Petitions with a near 16,000 signatures collected from all across the U.S. stating that they wanted the Confederate Battle Flag returned to this cemetery. I’d also like to state, that it’s because of this man’s tireless leadership efforts that one day, we will stand in this cemetery under our ancestor’s Confederate Battle Flag, for we will rally behind Rick and fight to the end for that flag. Please welcome Rick Griffin....
Stand up. . . for what you believe in.
Stand for something or you will fall for anything.
" Let us not be weary in doing good; for at the proper time,
we will reap a harvest if we do not give up...."