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Family uproots weeds, plants flags

By Bev Barr BCC Editor

BCC Staff photo by Bev Barr
Levi and Brienna Stroud took their children Daniel and Olyvia to Oak Rest Cemetery in Medina Saturday, Aug. 19, to honor the dead and Texas history. The couple weeded gravesites and placed Confederate flags near the headstones of 6 confederate soldiers buried there.

Levi Stroud and his family spent Saturday morning walking through the Oak Rest Cemetery in Medina, pulling up weeds and placing Confederate flags near the headstones of the graves of men who fought in the Civil War.
“Coming here, to the cemetery,” Brienna Stroud said, “it brings me peace.”
Strolling through the Medina cemetery is to witness a legacy of families who paid the price for our peace. Carvings in headstones tell a story of service and values: of privates, master sergeants, technical sergeants, majors and lieutenant colonels; of Freemasons and Woodsmen of the World and Texas Rangers; of mostly men but also women who served in every branch of service and who stepped up to America’s bloody conflicts — World War I, World War II, The Korean War, Vietnam, The Persian Gulf — and 6 who fought in the Civil War.
Levi Stroud said he felt compelled to do something to the honor Confederate veterans, especially in light of recent events in Charlottesville, Virginia, and of other things happening closer to home. He is deeply troubled that the city of San Antonio is considering removing the Travis Park Monument in San Antonio.
“That monument, which was erected during the 1st decade of the 20th Century — I don’t remember the exact date — is for the San Antonio area men – men from this area -- who went off to fight for their state and didn’t make it back home,” he said. “This isn’t a monument to a general. This monument is dedicated to the grunt soldiers who fought because their states were being invaded.
“I’m a descendent of people who fought on both sides of the war,” Stroud said. “My great-great-great-grandfather fought for the South in the Civil War, and on my mother’s side my great-great-great-grandfather fought for the Union.
“When I was in high school, my aunt told me I had an ancestor in the Civil War and I started reading about it,” Stroud said. “It captivated me.”
Stroud joined the Sons of Confederate Soldiers when he was a senior in high school, about 7 years ago. His interest in history and involvement with Sons of Confederate Soldiers evolved into a full-blown and demanding hobby of being a Civil War reenacter. He has an authentic infantry uniform, musket and all of the other gear a soldier of the 1860's would have carried. He “fought” in numerous reenactments at several battlefields during the sesquicentennial — Wilson’s Creek, Missouri; Shiloh and Pittsburg Landing, Tennessee; and various Civil War battlefields in Mississippi.
“There’s nothing wrong with telling history the way it was,” Stroud said.
In recent years, Stroud’s membership with the heritage organization has lapsed, primarily because of time constraints. The reenactment hobby naturally took a backseat to family life. As if on cue, he picks up 2-year-old daughter Olyvia and pulls a few sticker burrs from her socks before placing her in a stroller with her younger brother.
But Stroud is bothered that cities are canceling Civil War reenactments and plans to make the time to become involved with the Sons of Confederate Soldiers organization again. He has already marked his calendar to be a re-enactor at the annual Civil War event at the Liendo Plantation in Hempstead, Texas, which will be in November.
“The Sons of Confederate Soldiers is a nonpolitical, heritage organization,” Stroud said. “What we have in common is that we have ancestors who fought in the Confederate Army. It is not a political organization,” he emphasized.
Stroud can be found selling historical and patriotic flags at the Trading Post, which meets the first Saturday of every month at The Old Timer on Hwy. 16 in Medina. He sells a wide variety of flags including the American Betsy Ross, the Come and Take It, several versions of Don’t Tread on Me, and the Rebel flag. He enjoys discussing details, such as why a star is placed at an angle or upside down.
“There’s nothing wrong with telling history the way it was,” Stroud said. “I didn’t choose (to sell) flags because there’s a lot of money in it, but in this politically correct environment I hope people will learn about our history, buy them, and fly them. ”
The Stroud family will make their way to other cemeteries in the Hill Country where Civil War veterans are buried — the West Prong Cemetery off FM 337, and then the Bandera Cemetery, where both Confederate and Union soldiers are buried.
“I’ve ordered an American flag from the 1860's to place on the grave of a veteran who fought in the Union Army,” Stroud said. “One with 36 stars.”
Wandering through the Medina Cemetery one sees tangible expressions of individualism, character and loving legacy: Birdhouses, photographs, flowers, a park bench, a Mountain Laurel in full bloom, and more words carved in stone:
BELIEVED: “A people that take no pride in the noble achievement of remote ancestors will never achieve anything worthy to be remembered with pride by remote descendants.” — McCauley.