The scene opens on a young Confederate soldier standing alone in a field in Marietta, Georgia in 1862 bidding farewell to his beloved Lila. He sings about fighting for safety and peace in Marietta, working to protect the purity of the Southern way of life from the “lies” taught by the North (“The Old Red Hills of Home”). Time then fast forwards fifty-one years to 1913 and the hustle and bustle of preparations for the Confederate Memorial Day parade in Atlanta. We meet the same soldier, now an elderly amputee. Despite the fact that “not much survives of the old hills of Georgia”, he is still as devoted to the Southern ideals he fought for as a youth.
The scene shifts to the home of Leo and Lucille Frank. Lucille, a young Southern belle, is disappointed that her husband has to work on Memorial Day; she had hoped that they could picnic together. Leo responds gruffly that “Confederate Memorial Day is asinine. Why would anyone want to celebrate losing a war?” Tensions seem high.