The Virginia Flaggers were thrilled to receive an invitation to attend the marker dedication service for Samuel Hawkins Bell, Hankins Co., Virginia Light Artillery, CSA, held yesterday, July 26th. We headed out to Elwood Cemetery in Norfolk Saturday morning, on a very warm July day.
As far as the family knows, Bell's grave has been unmarked since his death. Through the efforts of his family, and with the assistance of Kenny Harris and the Princess Anne Camp #484, SCV, a Confederate marker was obtained and installed.
The ceremony was planned and carried out by the family and was a very moving and fitting tribute.
The Princess Anne Camp provided an honor guard and family members traveled from as far away as Arkansas to pay tribute to their ancestor.
I was honored to be asked to share a poem, and we all appreciated the opportunity to be present at such a wonderful ceremony.
Afterwards, we talked with family members and attendees. At one point, we walked over to the new headstone to get a closer look and take a photo. As we were standing there, talking about the ceremony and learning more about the family, a man who was walking down the public sidewalk, which was only a few feet away, left the sidewalk and started walking toward us and the marker, at a brisk pace and with a very serious expression. When he reached us, I greeted him and he immediately inquired "What soldier are we honoring today?" Admittedly a bit surprised, I pointed to the marker and explained that Samuel Dawson Bell was a Confederate soldier and that his family had gathered here to honor him.
He immediately turned toward the marker and proceeded to salute and stand at attention, for what seemed like at least 60 seconds. We all stood quietly, in awe and appreciation of this remarkable expression of respect and honor, one soldier to another. It turns out the gentleman was a U.S. Marine Corp Veteran.
When he broke from attention, he reached out and shook hands with each of us and we thanked him for stopping to pay respects. He seemed a bit agitated and we understood why when he pointed to a battle flag that was leaning against a vehicle, in preparation for packing it up to leave, which had slipped from its position, unnoticed, allowing the tip of the flag to touch the ground. "Please have someone get that flag off of the ground, ma'am. A soldier's flag must NEVER touch the ground."
As he walked away, we thanked him again, and were left standing there in amazement and in awe of what we had just witnessed. All present were deeply touched by the scene that had unfolded, and it was the perfect ending to an absolutely wonderful event.
We would like to thank the Bell family, especially Anna Bell and Chris Xantos for the kind invitation and warm welcome, and the men of the Princes Anne Camp who helped make the marker and ceremony possible.
P.O. Box 547
Sandston VA 23150