A Soldier�s Story
of Christmas Past
By: Calvin E.
Speaker, Writer, Author of book "When America Stood for God,
Family and Country"
member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans.
Why do some merchants and media call it just a holiday? People
stand in line at malls after Thanksgiving and rush through the
doors to buy, buy and buy.
Is this Christmas?
Partly, but the true meaning of the Christmas Season is about the
birth of Jesus Christ. Christmas is also about helping people.
During the year of our Lord 1919, the folks of Atlanta , Georgia
were preparing for Christmas. This holy day was a special time for
family, friends and children. People went to church or synagogue
and gave thanks to God for their many blessings.
There were, however, some who were not as fortunate!
The aging veterans of the Confederate Soldier's Home were proud
men who had braved many a battle in the 1860s. One of these men
was former Captain Thomas Yopp who saw battle in such places as
Fredericksburg , Virginia where a cannon ball shell knocked him
The man who stayed with him until he recovered was his servant who
had also joined the 14th Georgia Regiment. Bill Yopp was more then
a servant; he and Thomas Yopp were friends who hunted and fished
Bill Yopp, a Black Confederate veteran, was sympathetic to the men
of the Atlanta 's soldiers home who had been his compatriots in
arms over 50 years earlier.
During the War Between the States, 1861-1865, Bill Yopp was
nicknamed "Ten Cent Bill" because of the money he made shinning
shoes. He did this for the soldiers at a dime a shine and ended up
with more money than most of his comrades. The soldiers did not
mind him doing this and took care of him when he was sick.
During the Christmas of 1919, Bill wanted to pay back the kindness
that was shown him. He first caught a train to Macon , Georgia
where he was offered help by a newspaper editor. He then took a
train to Savannah where he raised Christmas money for the
Just weeks before the Christmas of 1919, Bill had raised the money
and Georgia 's Governor Hugh Dorsey helped him distribute
envelopes of three dollars to each veteran. This was a great deal
of money in those days.
The old Confederates were speechless. Tears were shed because of
Bill Yopp's good heart and kind deed. Many of those men had little
or nothing. Bill was invited to come into the home's chapel to say
a few words.
Bill Yopp was presented a medal of appreciation for his support of
the soldiers and was later voted in as a resident of the
Confederate Soldier's home where he spent his remaining years.
Bill Yopp died on June 3, 1936, the birthday of the Confederacy's
President Jefferson Davis. Bill was buried at the Confederate
Cemetery in Marietta , Georgia .
Christmas is about love, forgiveness, old friends, family and the
child who became Savior of the world.
2011 marks the
150th Anniversary of the War Between the States and the
Georgia Division Sons of Confederate Veterans is airing a video on
TV commemorating this time in American History. See more
Please read Charles Pitt�s book "Ten Cent Bill" for more about