Michael Givens, commander in chief of the Sons of Confederate Veterans (Contributed photo)
Michael Givens may have never met Gen. Robert E. Lee, but the historic Confederate Army leader is a hero in his eyes.
Givens, a director and cinematographer by trade as well as an East Tennessee State University alumni, is also the commander in chief of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, a group that’s been in existence since 1896.
“Our job, our duty, is to vindicate the cause of the Confederacy and to defend the Confederate soldiers’ good name,” he said. “(That) seems to be a real serious duty these days because it’s politically correct to say that the South was wrong and we disagree and (think) at least we should be able to have that discussion.”
Tonight, Givens will be the keynote speaker for the Sons of Confederate Veterans, Vaughn’s Brigade’s Annual Dinner at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel, 211 Mockingbird Lane, in honor of Lee-Jackson Day.
“For many years since the end of the war, there have been people who have celebrated the birthdays of two of the most important heroes of the South during the war. That was Robert E. Lee and (Thomas) ‘Stonewall’ Jackson,” he said. “Since their birthdays are relatively close, oftentimes people would get together and have a banquet or some sort of get together to recognize, memoralize, these two heroes. We’ve got about 31,000 members worldwide.”
While the day is set aside for both Lee and Jackson equally, Givens said his presentation, titled “Robert E. Lee: Master of War, Servant of the Lord,” will focus just on the general.
“I basically will take them through a story of who Robert E. Lee was and what his background was,” he said. “He might have been thought of as something of a dichotomy because he was a master of war and servant of the Lord. He was a very, very devout Christian, and, in fact, it has been said that he was more concerned with making sure his men had Bibles than bullets. There were upward of 50,000 men whose souls were saved while he commanded the army.
“Some people like to say that Robert E. Lee, by joining the Confederacy, was a traitor. He was far from it.”
The buffet-style dinner will start at 6 and members of both the Sons of Confederate Veterans and the Daughters of the Confederacy were invited to attend.
“It certainly is great to be with people that recognize their value of being a descendant of a Confederate veteran,” Givens said. “To be able to say that ... your heart pumps the same blood that those men did just can make you feel proud of that. I’m proud just to be an American, but I’m extremely proud to know that I’m sired from people that ... cared so much for their freedom that they were willing to go (to war). They gave up everything.”
He said people curious about their heritage should ask their elders about their family history, as well as utilize genealogy resources to help them connect and learn about their ancestors.
Those interested in joining or learning more about the Sons of Confederate Veterans can call 800-MYSOUTH or visit www.scv.org.
For more information on Vaughn’s Brigade, visit www.ltrobertjtipton2083.com.