Michael Westerman’s memorial service was held on March 4, appropriately enough on Confederate Flag Day. My friend and fellow Southern Leaguer, Jack Kershaw, and I arrived shortly before noon at the designated meeting-place in Goodlettsville, Tennessee, just north of Nashville on I-65. The sky was late-winter pale blue, and against it, from the throng that had already gathered in the shopping center parking lot, swelled a sea of battle flags. The atmosphere was festive, like a family reunion long delayed. Everywhere strains of “Dixie” and other Southern anthems burst forth with unrestrained exuberance. We had come to honor the memory of the dead. But, as with most Southern funerals, significant things occur among the surviving kith and kin. We go to bury our dead and we come away resurrected, our sense of place within the kindred renewed and confirmed. So too at the memorial service and rally in honor of Michael David Westerman, who was murdered in January, allegedly by two carloads of black males who objected to his flying the Confederate battle flag from his truck.

Between 500-600 vehicles initially formed the motorcade that headed north on Highway 41 for Guthrie, Kentucky. Once arrived in Westerman’s hometown of 2,000, whole families saluted us from their front yards, and teenagers waved excitedly from the hoods of cars in gas station parking lots. The Flag was everywhere, especially poignant in the hands of little children. Rain clouds loomed in the west, and Jack remarked on the propitiousness of the slain’s name; the fate of “Westerman” could yet be the fate of “Western Man” should Southerners be stripped of their culture and civilization. We made our way to the gravesite where Michael Westerman’s survivors waited: his young widow, his infant twins, each held by a tearful grandparent. A brisk north wind rippled hundreds of Confederate banners held aloft by the callused hands of God-fearing, law-abiding, working people. During the eulogy someone said that the Justice Department might bring civil rights charges against the alleged assailants. His sidekick shot back, “It’ll be a cold day in Hell when they admit that Southerners have civil rights.”

From Guthrie, we wound our way to Elkton, home of Todd County High School, Westerman’s alma mater. Its sports teams are the “Rebels” and their symbol, the Confederate battle flag. After all, Todd County is the birthplace of Jefferson Davis. The Kentucky NAACP has been agitating against The Flag and other Southern symbols since the fall of 1993. By now our caravan had swelled to nearly 1,000 vehicles (even though the AP wire story reported only 200-300), looking like an invading army.

A country music group was performing Dwight Yoakum’s “I Sang Dixie” as the multitude entered Jefferson Davis Park. The ubiquitous Rebel Yell echoed eerily around the grounds and fell silent at the foot of the massive obelisk that is the Davis monument. Following a moving tribute to Westerman by his aunt, speakers from several pro-South organizations—the Southern League, the Sons of Confederate Veterans, the Heritage Preservation Association, the Council of Conservative Citizens, among others—fired an already enthusiastic crowd of some 4,000. The Southern League’s advocacy of secession as a means of combating the tyranny of a usurping central state met with howls of approval. It was a good day for Southern nationalism. The veterans among us almost to a man said that they had never seen anything quite like this before.

I have no doubt that people went away more inspired and more certain that they still belong to an extended family called The South. They will continue to fly The Flag and keep and bear arms, even though tyrants and thugs in their midst seek to deprive them of both rights, while liberal intellectuals will continue to justify “black rage”—as if any color of rage that manifests itself as murder is acceptable. The Establishment will continue to pass “crime bills,” while the Crips and Bloods freely spread mayhem. White Southerners will get more of what Otto Scott calls “retroactive punishment,” with the pretext being the rectification of perceived past injustices. I’m reminded of Mick Jagger’s “Sympathy for the Devil”; “When every cop is a criminal and all the sinners saints . . . “

Our future as Southerners is threatened. Motorcades and rallies are voluntary, and so is allegiance to the South; we wouldn’t want it any other way. But if we, as the remnant of Western Man, are to survive to enjoy our voluntary associations, we must close ranks and require of ourselves service to the cause of Southern independence. The gathering in memory of Michael Westerman has shown that Southern nationalism is indeed alive, and with it lives the “last, best hope” for Western Man.