By: Kendall Boggs
On Saturday, August 2nd, a group of thirty-four men and women had the opportunity to experience Florida Caverns State Park as well as learn about the history of Marianna. They had traveled here from Ft. Rucker in Alabama.
These men and women visited the Caverns before being taken to the Russ House and receiving a history lesson from our very own, Dale Cox. From the Russ House, the group - consisting of exactly twenty-six International Military Students, most of whom spoke Spanish- was lead on a walking tour to St. Luke’s Episcopal Church.
Once they arrived at the church grounds, they were greeted by several men in full Confederate soldier gear. The visiting group was then given the chance to see the weapons used by soldiers in the Civil War.
Stan Peacock provided the weapons as well as a "show and tell" of how each item worked and was made. After the showing of weapons, the tour continued into the St. Luke’s Cemetery where tales of the war and of old Marianna held their interest as they stood among the ancient headstones.
Cox showcased his knowledge of Marianna’s history impressively with stories of individuals buried in the cemetery as well as educating the visitors on the history of several areas located near the church.
Larry Clere and Lionel Young, members of Theophilus West, M.D. Camp No. 1346 Sons of Confederate Veterans resurrected the essence of their ancestors in their Confederate garb. Also assisting the gentlemen were Mr. Young’s wife, Sheila Young- member of the Order of Confederate Rose- and granddaughter, Julia Russo, both dressed in traditional clothing from the time of the Civil War. Both Clere and Young are helping to identify and mark the graves of Confederate Soldiers buried in various cemeteries by the use of GPS mapping.
In order for one to become a member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, males must have a direct or indirect ancestor that fought in the war. The Order of Confederate Rose, an organization for women, is an independent support group to the Sons of Confederate Veterans. Yet, unlike the Sons of Confederate Veterans, female members do not have to be direct or indirect relatives with citizens who fought in the war.
The Field Studies Program Coordinator from the International Military Student Office in Fort Rucker, Alabama, Joseph Fernandez, was responsible for transporting the assembly of students to Marianna. He said a group of students usually come to Marianna (as well as other cities) about twice a year, once for a weekend outing and the next trip for a single day. Fernandez also acknowledged his luck in contacting Stan Peacock, calling Peacock a "Godsend", in helping organize the day trip for the students.