TIME Exclusive:

GEORGE W. BUSH HAS QUIETLY REINSTATED PRACTICE OF PAYING HOMAGE TO CONFEDERATE HERO JEFFERSON DAVIS

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New York -- George W. Bush has quietly reinstated a tradition, that his father halted in 1990, of paying homage to the greatest hero of the Confederacy -- Jefferson Davis, TIME's Karen Tumulty and Michael Weisskopf report.

Last Memorial Day, for the second year in a row, Bush's White House sent a floral wreath to the Confederate Memorial in Arlington National Cemetery. It?s not clear why, after more than a decade's lapse, the current Bush White House resumed this symbolic tribute to the Old South. But one of the organizations connected to the ceremony is the Sons of Confederate Veterans, whose "Chief Aide-de-Camp" is Richard T. Hines, an influential figure in South Carolina politics. In that state's brutal 2000 Republican primary, Hines reportedly helped finance tens of thousands of letters blasting Bush rival John McCain for failing to support the flying of the Confederate flag over the state capitol. Despite repeated requests by TIME, Hines declined to comment, TIME reports. George W. Bush issued a stern rebuke to Senator Trent Lott in December for his praise of the segregationist 1948 presidential bid of Strom Thurmond. Bush has revived the tradition, dating back to Woodrow Wilson, that his father had halted in 1990. The elder Bush was weary of infighting among various Confederacy groups, so his White House declined to participate altogether. "No one saw a wreath from 1990 until George W. Bush got elected," said John Edward Hurley, head of the Confederate Memorial Association in Washington. His account is echoed by numerous participants in the annual event, TIME reports.

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