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  • Chowan Herald

    Group honors Chowan's Civil War dead at Confederate statue

    By Vernon Fueston Staff Writer,


    More than a dozen people gathered at Edenton’s Confederate Monument last week for a wreath-laying ceremony to honor the nearly 50 Confederate soldiers from Chowan County who died in the Civil War.

    The brief service, the third such observance of Confederate Memorial Day, was sponsored by the Sons of Confederate Veterans. It featured the placing of a wreath at the base of the monument and the reading of the names of 47 Confederate veterans who died in combat or from other causes during the four years of the Civil War.

    The ceremony comes as the town of Edenton seeks to remove the monument, seen by many as a vestige of the town’s white supremacist past, from its current site at the town’s waterfront to a new site at Hollowell Park on West Queen Street.

    Edenton Town Council approved moving the monument to Hollowell Park more than a year ago, but the move has been held up by an injunction put in place by Senior Resident Superior Court Judge Jerry Tillett in response to a lawsuit filed by the United Daughters of the Confederacy, North Carolina Division, Inc.; the Sons of Confederate Veterans, Inc.; and the Colonel William F. Martin Camp 1521 of the Sons of Confederate Veterans. The groups are challenging the town’s plans under provisions of a 2015 state law limiting the permanent removal of “objects of remembrance” like Confederate monuments.

    The town’s attorney has requested a hearing before Tillett on lifting the injunction. According to court officials, Tillett is scheduled to hear the town’s request for a hearing during a conference at the Pasquotank County Courthouse on Monday.

    The ceremony also comes as the Sons of Confederate Veterans is organizing a new chapter in Edenton named after Edenton’s Bell Battery.

    The artillery unit was formed around a cannon forged from St. Paul’s Church’s bell. The charter for the new organization is expected within the next few weeks.

    During last week’s Confederate Memorial Day observance, Michael Dean, commander of the new Sons of Confederate Veterans chapter, read an excerpt from an 1885 speech given by Confederate General D. H. Hill memorializing the South’s war dead.

    “And what shall be said of those unselfish patriot who were true to their colors to the last?” Dean read.

    In an interview after the service, Dean said he and other Sons of Confederate Veterans members feel an obligation to honor the sacrifice of the Confederacy’s soldiers. He claimed the vast majority of soldiers who fought for the Confederacy did so to protect their homeland rather than defend slavery. According to the National Park Service, more than 800,000 enlisted in the Confederate army and nearly 260,000 did not survive the war.

    Dean denies any connection to white supremacy or racism. A Vietnam War veteran, Dean likens honoring Confederate war dead to honoring Vietnam War veterans.

    “All the soldiers in Vietnam were all brothers, soldiers, sailors, marines, and airmen. We were all brothers,” he said.

    The Confederate Monument in Edenton has been the center of competing protests while the court case continues over its removal. No counter-demonstration was mounted during last week’s Confederate Memorial Day service.

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