Stranger in the Crowd

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            Stranger in the Crowd
                           The stranger among us!

History is not an absolute, but cause and effect: Change the cause and you alter the effect.  What if a single decision or battle had went the other way?   Perhaps an election had turned out differently!   We as individuals are capable of altering the future course of history by our activism, or lack thereof.  Imagine with us for a moment, certain historical events had indeed taken an alternate course.

'The story you are about to read is an illustration, which exemplifies how the course of history might be radically altered by unforeseen circumstances.  How a single individual could be thrust into the roll of leader, and become a true hero to his people!  While this story is purely fiction, it should not be counted out as a real possibility, merely because it might not seem impossible on the surface.’

It was a beautiful Confederate Memorial Day in a number of the Southern States; memorial services were scheduled to take place at several of the battlefield cemeteries, in honor of our Confederate War Dead.  One particular service had been part of the planning for some time, which was scheduled to take place on the steps of the Statehouse, in Montgomery Alabama.  It was 9:30 A.M. and the crowd was already gathering for the 10:00 A.M. starting time.  Confederate Banners were beginning to appear, both in the crowds, and at the top landing of the capital steps, while the podium was even then being put into place.

Looking across the street to the southeast, first Confederate States National Flag flew tall in the wind above the First White House of the Confederacy, thanks to a mild but steady wind.  The temperature and humidity was most pleasant, the sky a beautiful blue with scattered soft white clouds.  The arrangements for the memorial services with State and Local Government Officials had unexpectedly worked out smoothly, and were now in play.  It appeared as though the Almighty God had blessed this day and sanctified it, the growing crowd also sensed a most pleasant day was in store.

We were told Mr. Stan Kirkland of the Dixie Legal Services Center was to be the keynote speaker, and Reverend Michael Watkins of Little Rock Arkansas has been named the Chaplain for the day.  The President Confederate League, and the Chief of Staff Confederate Legion were to make separate announcements and remarks.  There would also be Confederate and Gospel Music in honor of the occasion, refreshment stands and Sutleries were set up in several places.  The crowd, the largest we had seen in some time, was eager for events to get underway and their attention was already focused on the activities going on around the podium, at the top of the steps.

A Confederate Honor Guard had been previously arranged, with the local Sons of Confederate Veterans as well as the Confederate Legion, and they could be seen falling into ranks along the sidewalk, preparing to carry the colors forward.  A Mr. Robert Sidney was chosen to open the ceremonies, but it was understood, he had to depart very shortly afterward, on urgent business.  However, everything proceeded on schedule with opening remarks by Robert Sidney, a prayer and message by Chaplain Michael Watkins, afterwards the call to colors, accompanied by the singing of Dixie.

There had been a new rising speaker in the Confederate Cause, who had been making his rounds of the various organizational meetings and rallies, throughout the Southern States, during the course of the past several months.  A gentleman by the name of Justin Stanford!  It was understood, he is a Tennessee boy, from the far eastern Smoky Mountain region of the State.  Everyone simply referred to him by his nickname 'Jeb' who was known as a fire-eater in the mold of Edmund Rufus, because of the way he stirred-up the crowds everywhere he spoke.  He had attracted a fairly good following in the short time he's been on the circuit!

No one really knew much about him, and he had apparently appeared out of seemingly nowhere, but he was likeable, honorable, and was certainly a spirited believer in the cause; the crowds flocked to hear him.  It seemed strange that 'Jeb' was invited to speak first, knowing he would be a hard act to follow, but this was the way the schedule had been arranged.  After Jeb's fiery speech, there was a short break as people headed for the Refreshment Stands and Sutleries.  I thought it odd, that a break was scheduled at this particular moment, however no one seemed to consider questioning the issue.
My wife and I bought us a coke and mingled with the crowd, meeting old and newly acquired friends alike.  Soon the break was over, and the call to reconvene the services was announced over the loud speakers.  Then we found out why the break!  Mr. Stan Kirkland, who had been scheduled as the keynote speaker and expected to arrive at the last moment, would not be able to attend, due to a pressing legal case.  A gentleman by the name of Mr. Herbert Lane, owner of 'Lane Furniture' in Culpeper Virginia, being well known back home, was spotted in the crowd, and recommended by several of his fellow Virginians.

As for the remainder of the crowd, they had little idea as to who Herbert Lane was or of his background.  As it turned out, it took a wee bit of coaxing to convince him to address the crowd, but he did manage to finally agree.  Absolutely no one was prepared for what was about to take place, while all watched as Mr. Herbert Lane slowly walked up the capital steps, toward the podium.  He appeared to be somewhat of a large man, with a stout build, perhaps 52 years of age, and he seemed extremely agile, for a man his age.  His mannerism was mellow and friendly; he seemed reminiscent of the Stately Southern Gentlemen, almost an image one would find in a novel about the Old South and the Confederacy.

The obvious question one would ask is  'How has this fine gentleman remained unknown by the movement at large?'  His demeanor reveled him to be an intellectual of one sort or the other, very business like.  After several handshakes with people along the way, as well as members of the official delegation, then present about the platform, he eased over toward the podium, almost reluctantly.  Written on everyone’s face was an expression as to 'who is this man?   And what will he say?'  This man, a stranger from Culpeper, had been selected out of the crowd to address this very congregation of people!
He began to speak slowly about the suffering and sacrifice of our Confederate Soldiers and Sailors of the War for Confederate Independence and of the principles for which they died.  As he continued to speak, his distinctly ‘Southern Accent’ could hardly be ignored and the very sound of his voice brought pleasant smiles to the throngs beginning to gather.  Then, something happened which I shall myself shall recall for the rest of my life; the podium had been purposefully place some distance from the Star, marking the place upon which Jefferson Davis stood in 1861 to take the oath of office, as Provisional President, Confederate States of America.

The following year in 1862, Jefferson Davis became the First President of the Confederacy, as the permanent Confederate States Constitution went into effect.  Mr. Herbert Lane then slowly began to walk away from the podium as he continued to speak, while holding the cordless microphone in his hand.  He then purposefully stopped when he reached the star, and then stood directly upon it!  Under any other circumstances, knowledgeable Confederate Patriots might have thought him disrespectful, but not after witnessing what was about to take place.

He paused in his speaking, for what we all thought was merely for dramatic purposes, but it turned out to be much more then that, much more indeed.  His face seemed to suddenly glisten and light up, his eyes started to shine as the stars of heaven, almost like they were turning to fire.  His countenance changed, even the crowd could sense a change in him was taking place.  A miracle of some kind, had just occurred; this wasn't the same man, which approached the podium, just moments earlier.  A charismatic, spiritual power and strength seemed to flow though every fiber of his being.

Mr. Lane appeared much like Moses might have looked, when he came down from Mount Sinai; this was the expression of a man, who appeared as if he had just looked into the face of Almighty God.  The crowd, as well as the delegation present on the platform that day was glued to him, almost in a staring gaze.  All this must have taken only moments, but during those few moments, time seemed to have stood still, if but for a moment, as history dramatically altered its course.  This had happened before our very eyes and while no one could effectively describe it openly, we all knew within us the Confederate States National Leader, that we had sought and prayed for, had finally arrived.  Nothing would ever be the same again!

Whatever Herbert Lane had intended to say, we will never know, for now a power took over him greater then all of us, and that power was now speaking through him.   We all stood in awe as he bound together the past, present and future of the Old South and the Confederacy, like no man had ever done.  All that it meant to be Confederate and Southern radiated from this single man, who had come to us from Culpeper.  As I turned and looked about I couldn't help but notice the size of the crowd was steadily growing to a considerable size, as passers-by stopped to here him.

The crowd eventually filling the entire square before the Montgomery Statehouse, he mesmerized even the mass media press!   They could be heard calling for assistance, in anticipation of a vastly increased and comprehensive coverage of this developing story, now unfolding here in the City of Montgomery Alabama.  The tentativeness of the mass media told me, this was an entirely different leader then anything we had seen in the movement before.  We had come for a pleasant memorial service, and now the Confederate Cause had been thrust upon the world stage, in an instant in time.

About half way through Mr. Lane's speech, I notice a national television camera crew, moving through the crowd, jockeying for a better advantage point.   There was no doubt in any ones mind there would be worldwide news coverage by sunset and the pendulum had just now swung in favor of the Confederacy, as time itself seemed to pause, so as to pay honors.   There was also an obviously renewal of Southern pride, which was taking place in every Southern City even as the situation continued to unfold here in Montgomery, while Herbert Lane stood on the very spot, marked by a star, where it all began so long ago.

When one considers that our first national leader Jefferson Davis spoke so eloquently from this very spot at his First Inauguration!  While all these things were taking place a full uniformed brigade from the Confederate Legion divided itself into two regiments, then took up positions along the bottom of the Statehouse steps as well as along the sidewalk at the edge of the street, so as to offer some measure of protection to their new Confederate Leader.  It was now obvious, the remainder of the memorial service had been permanently and instantly altered by these developments.   Just as Herbert's speech ended, he received the thunderous applauds of the crowd, which broke out in boisterous and heartfelt ‘Confederate Patriotic’ singing.

It was obvious Herbert Lane's life would not be the same from this day forward, for he not only has became our Confederate National Leader, but in effect the Commander of the entire movement, even to the point of being able to declare a single strategy thereby ending the division within the movement forever.  We had all born witness that day, that all the differences, which had divided us up to this date, had suddenly melt away like snow on a hot July afternoon.   The national Sons of Confederate Veterans, which had always been reluctant thus far to involve itself in political activism, would no longer be so reluctant, rather had now become a full participant in the modern Confederate Cause.

The entire uniformed Confederate troops in attendance that day realized, we not only gained a national leader; but due to that very fact, his own life would now be in danger.  A ‘Full Company’ of them came to attention almost as if scripted, moved forward, then marched up the capital steps, and surrounded him.  Mr. Herbert Lane, the new Confederate Leader now commanded the most awesome political force in the fifty states, and we were now seeing the beginnings of a permanent Security Guard.  While the crowds cheered and applauded, two men, dressed as a Confederate Officer and a Sergeant, approached Herbert Lane's wife Jeanette, standing in the crowd near the foot of the steps.

After speaking to her briefly, they began to escort her up the steps to stand with her husband.  As she joined her husband, the entire congregation of people assembled there that day, broke out in a thunderous outburst of cheers, handclaps and whistles.   We were seeing for the first time, since the fall of the Confederate States Government, not only the emergence of a National Leader, but a woman who would stand as the Second First Lady of the Confederacy and in due course of time, this would be confirmed by Confederate States National Elections.

The program finally came to an end but not as planned, a conference had been called behind the scenes inside the Statehouse, so as to discuss how best to deal with the present situation.  It had became obvious Mr. Herbert Lane and his lovely wife Jeanette, could no longer depart this location in the same fashion as they had arrived, given the worldwide coverage of the event, as well as their new status.  Already the politically correct and the anti-Confederate bigots would be stirring up trouble; bitter individuals would threaten to take matters into their own hands and even threaten their lives.

It was decided there was no other option, but to provide a full escort with Security Guards; the Municipal “Police, eager to avoid an ugly scene in their city agreed, being fully aware of the repercussions, if Mr. And Mrs. Lane were injured our killed.  Therefore, once the ceremonies were over, Herbert and Jeanette were escorted through the Statehouse and out a side door.  A convoy of automobiles accompanied by Municipal Police was later spotted circling the west side of the building and departing in the direction of the Selma-Mobile Highway, heading toward the Airport.

Upcoming rallies in Columbia South Carolina and Richmond Virginia and other Southern Cities were arranged, also attracting huge crowds.  Mr. Herbert and Jeanette Lane were treated as if they already had been the President and First Lady of the Confederacy, as throngs gathered, wherever they appeared.  We all had a distinct feeling; the world was only seeing the beginning of a miracle, which began with the appearance of Mr. and Mrs. Herbert and Jeanette Lane.  The long march back from occupation, subjugation and cultural genocide would soon come to an end, the liberation and independence of the Confederacy had gone from impossible to likely.  All these things having occurred one sunny afternoon, while time stood still and history altered its course!
God save the Confederacy



"Victory is for those with the persistence and fortitude to resist the temptation to withdraw or whose resolve has been tempered, when conditions worsen and the cost rises; it is not for the weak hearted, nor those who are softened by the ease and comfort of a gilded cage, provided by the enemy at the cost of liberty.  It is for those who continue to fight the good fight, even after others who have gone before, faced by overwhelming numbers and firepower, found themselves unable to complete the mission." --- Jay Buckner.  In any case Confederate Fiction allows us to dream and envision victory; otherwise "where there is no vision, the people parish." {Proverbs 29:18}

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