Sunday, May 30, 2004

Our flag became tattered by the wind several months ago. We took it down. Today we replaced it.

The young black drummers in the neighborhood behind us have been practicing for days. They will pace the parade across the bridge, where cars will pick up paraders for the trip to Natchez National Cemetery tomorrow morning. I don't know the history of this parade, but it has been a tradition in the black community here for at least 40 years, which is as long as Lyman can remember.

Nadine Crutchfield says it dates from World War II. Mr. Frank Williams, black veteran of World War II, says he marched in 1946, and the tradition was strong before that.

He tells me the veterans used to meet at the black veterans hall, then parade to the ferry landing before there was a bridge, march the four miles to the cemetery, partake in the ceremonies, then march the four miles back to the landing.

There's more to find out here.

UPDATE: Ask and ye shall receive. Here is a story in the May 31, 2004, Natchez Democrat that dates the tradition to Civil War veterans in 1868. Because the Natchez Democrat employs such young reporters, there is a glaring error in this story. The bridge linking Vidalia to Natchez was opened in September of 1940. There was only ferry service prior to that date.

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