This past Sunday was Confederate Memorial Day. Coming down from northern Ohio 55 years ago, I had a lot of getting dumped on as a Yankee and I had a lot to learn on the subject.
In moving to Fayetteville 50 years ago, I was most fortunate to meet dedicated Southerners who were nice to me and patient to teach me the facts.
The two Sons of Confederate Camps I became associated with still invite me to their meetings.
In 1998, the Georgia Confederate Association invited five teenagers from Brazil to Fayette County to spend a couple weeks. You see, after the war, knowing the Southern soldiers were destitute, the Emperor of Brazil invited them to his country on this condition: they would teach his farmers how to farm better and in exchange, he would sell them land at $20 an acre. Everyone kept their promise and in 1865 and 1866 as many as 15,000 families made the trip. The only ones returning were the older families who decided they couldn’t handle learning a new culture and a new language at their age.
Consequently there are a number of SCV camps in Brazil. The current families usually include their Southern ancestor’s name as a part of their last name and they can tell you all the War Between The States battles their ancestors fought in.
Portugal “founded” Brazil 510 years ago and contrary to popular notion, the language of Brazil is Portuguese, not Spanish as many suspect.
Since Brazil is south of the equator, in June, their coldest month, there is no school. The four boys who came spoke broken English and the girl, Anna Lee, spoke very good English. She invited me to Sáo Paulo the next April to spend Confederate Memorial Day with her family. Have I mentioned that I have a daughter who works for Delta? In April, 1999, I arrived in Brazil in plenty of time for the festivities.
The teenagers putting on the show were in Southern belle dresses and Confederate uniforms. I couldn’t believe I was in Brazil. Confederate flags flew everywhere and of course, this all took place in a cemetery, where those first Southern settlers to Brazil were buried.
I attended two more of these events in Sáo Paulo, which made me miss all the friends I made there this past Sunday.