Veterans memorial attracts people nationwide - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Veterans memorial attracts people nationwide

December 3, 2006

Albany -- A special tribute to four brothers from Worth County who served in the Civil War becomes a family reunion for their descendants. The Sylvester chapter or the Sons of Confederate Veterans, known as the Yancy Independents Camp 693, gave military honors to Albert, James, Jeremiah, and Barnett Kerce.

It's a family lineage Anita Kerce Hatcher's has chased down for many years, but never in touch with before. And with reason. Back in the 1920's the Kerce Family Cemetery, was bulldozed, and later overgrown with woods and lost.

"My father was here in '83, and I have pictures where it was totally covered in the kudzu vine, you could just barely see a couple of standing stones," said Anita Hatcher.

Anita is great-great granddaughter of James M. Kerce. He was one of four brothers to receive military honors from the Sons of Confederate Veterans, Sylvester chapter. The group is known as the Yancy Independents Camp 693 and three of the four Kerce brothers served in the group during the Civil War.

That's one reason organizers chose the Kerce brothers to give full military honors to.

"You think about someone who's willing to lay their life on the line to preserve your way of life, that's what we're about and that's what we're here for," said Mark Thornhill.

The dedication also opened unknown relations down the Kerce family line. It brought relatives from across the south Georgia region, even some from nationwide.

"Family means everything to me," said Hatcher.

Growing up Anita Hatcher developed a strong interest in genealogy from her father. For her, the dedication opened doors to a family reunion.

"Every minute of this, makes me want to cry," said Hatcher.

Emotions that family members share together, as they give a salute to their heritage.

The military honors to the group included the singing of "Dixie", the playing of "Taps", and a 21 gun salute.

The Yancy Independents Camp 693 of Sylvester host about four military dedications a year. They are named for the local division that fought with the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia.

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