Mars Hill – A diverse group of individuals gathered on a bright and sunny June morning at the Gabrial’s Creek Baptist Church’s cemetery in Madison County. While some attendees dressed in attire reminiscent of the 1700s, their purpose was not to mourn the departed but to pay homage to two valiant patriots from the Revolutionary War.
The American Revolutionary War (April 19, 1775 – September 3, 1783) was also known as the American War of Independence and was the military clash between American Patriot forces under George Washington and the British, establishing and securing the independence of the United States. The Second Continental Congress ratified the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776.
Resting just a few feet apart in the cemetery behind the church on a scenic ridge are the graves of James Anderson (1740–1814) and Edmond Palmer (1747–1835), both distinguished soldiers of the War of Independence. Approximately 25 people, including members of the honored soldiers’ families, assembled for the solemn ceremony arranged by the Sons of the American Revolution (SAR).
The event commenced with a warm welcome and greetings from Win Webster, the honorable president of the Lt. Col. Filex Walker Chapter of the SAR. Following this, the Blue Ridge SAR Chapter Color Guard presented the colors, adding a patriotic flair to the proceedings. Reverend Thomas Rightmyer then offered an invocation, after which the attendees stood in unison, pledging their allegiance to the American flag.
Ron Hillabrand, a member of the Blue Ridge SAR, led the SAR American Revolution pledge, a solemn declaration taken by the SAR members present at the ceremony. The pledge resounded with pride and conviction: “We, descendants of the heroes of the American Revolution, who, by their sacrifice, established the United States of America, reaffirm our faith in the principles of liberty and our Constitutional Republic and solemnly pledge to defend them against every foe.”
Craig Isaacson, the Regional Vice President of NCSSAR, and Steve Greene, a sixth great-grandson of James Anderson, proceeded to acknowledge the various chapters of the SAR and three chapters of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR). Greene then eloquently shared a brief family history of Anderson, while another descendant, Mrs. Sessions, who still resides on Anderson’s farm, added her own heartfelt words.
Isaacson and Greene, in a symbolic act of reverence, jointly dedicated the marker honoring Anderson, the departed patriot. Isaacson reflected, “If the past is indeed prolog, then a glimpse into the past can provide a source of wisdom and inspiration for the future. As we honor this patriot today, let us be mindful of his service to the nation, and let us rededicate ourselves to that which he held sacred.” Greene then led the attendees in prayer, fostering a moment of reflection and gratitude.
Next, Webster was invited to perform a similar dedication for Palmer. He eloquently recounted Palmer’s history, paying tribute to the courageous contributions of the fallen patriot. Subsequently, representatives from the different groups present were invited to approach the graves and render their respects to the late patriots. Those individuals who wore garments reminiscent of the Revolutionary War, created an evocative atmosphere as they reverently removed their hats and bowed, while the DAR members slightly bowed.
Brett Calloway, with heartfelt passion, stepped forward and recited the poignant poem “Hallowed Ground” by Jim Brewer. This stirring rendition paid homage specifically to those who had fought in the Revolutionary War. As Calloway’s voice echoed down the valley, it seemed to carry the weight of history, resonating through the serene landscape that lay before the cemetery.
Concluding the ceremony, Calloway led the group in the SAR recessional recitation, providing a fitting end to the proceedings. As the words reverberated, the sentiment was clear: “Until we meet again, let us remember our obligations to our forefathers, who gave us our Constitution, the Bill of Rights, an independent Supreme Court, and a nation of free men.” This powerful reminder served as a call to action, urging all present to honor the legacy of those who had fought for the principles upon.