For John Partridge, Confederate Memorial Day is personal.
Eleven of Partridge's ancestors fought in the War Between the States. As commander of the Maj. Gen. Ambrose Ransom Wright Camp of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, Partridge intends to honor them and other Confederate veterans.
Members of the camp are holding two memorial services and placing flags on the more than 400 Confederate veterans' graves at cemeteries in Columbia and McDuffie counties.
A simple service will be held at the Confederate Monument behind the Columbia County Library at 6:30 p.m. Thursday. Partridge said the camp picked one company to honor.
"We'll read the names, have a prayer and lay a wreath on the monument," Partridge said. The service is open to the public.
A larger memorial service will be held at 1 p.m. Saturday at the Old Warrenton Cemetery in Warrenton, Ga.
The service will feature members of the Atlanta Bagpipe Band and the Brig. Gen. E. Porter Alexander Honor Guard firing a black powder musket salute. There also will be a display of Confederate memorabilia presented by the Museum of Southern History.
"It is going to be pretty impressive," Partridge said.
Members of the camp started placing flags on the headstones of Confederate veterans Thursday at the Old Abilene Church Cemetery. There are seven known soldiers in the cemetery, but camp Adjunct David Butler said there could be many more unmarked graves.
Partridge said Confederate Memorial Day -- and April as Confederate History Month -- honors those who supported their "new country."
"There were a lot of slaves in Columbia County, but they were owned by, like, three families," Partridge said, adding that the county was then mainly rural farmland. "So all these men, they went to protect their homes, to fight for their new country, not for any other reason."
Of the about 2,000 people then living in the county, about 600 men volunteered to fight -- the second-highest percentage of any Georgia county.
"So for Columbia County to send that many men to the war and have so many of them not come back, I think we do have to (honor them)."
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