05/23/05 — Confederate Memorial Service held Sunday

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Confederate Memorial Service held Sunday

By Turner Walston
Published in News on May 23, 2005 1:51 PM

Wayne County residents honored the men who died fighting for North Carolina in the Civil War as the Sons of Confederate Veterans held their annual memorial service at Willowdale Cemetery on Sunday.

Hundreds of soldiers who fought for the South are buried in the cemetery, 800 in a single mass grave.

"It is a really beautiful sight to see so many, young and old, who have gathered to pay tribute to the soldiers here," said Daniel Boyette, a Civil War re-enactor who is a member of the Goldsboro Rifles, a unit whose history dates back to before the war broke out.

"We are proud of our Confederate ancestors," Boyette said. "We are proud of who we are. We are family."

About 70 people attended the ceremony.

Boyette was honored by the SCV with a War Service Medal for his service in the U.S. Army Honor Guard and for his service in the Vietnam War.

The service was held at the Confederate monument in the cemetery, which was erected in the 1880s through donations from various groups, including former members of the Goldsboro Rifles and the Ladies Memorial Association.

History professor Dr. Alan Lamm of Mount Olive College was the guest speaker at the event. He asked those present to reflect on the reason that so many men from Wayne and surrounding counties fought and died.

"They died because they were fighting for our freedom," Lamm said.

He referred to President Franklin Roosevelt's "Four Freedoms" of speech, religion, freedom from want, and freedom from fear. "Those four freedoms are still worth fighting for," Lamm said.

When Abraham Lincoln was elected president in 1860, Lamm said, people in the South believed their freedoms would be under attack politically. That led to the desire to leave the Union.

Lamm closed his speech with a poem by an unknown author written for Confederate Memorial Day. "For them no more shall reveille sound at the break of dawn, but may their sleep peaceful be till God's great judgment morn."

After wreaths were laid at the mound by members of the SCV chapters, the 26th and 27th regiments fired a volley salute to the Confederate dead and members of Andrews' Battery fired their cannon in response. The artillery unit is named for H.G. Andrews, an original member of the Goldsboro Rifles.

The service closed with a tribute to Pvt. Jared K. White, a member of the 8th Texas Cavalry who is buried in Willowdale. A Texas flag was raised at his gravesite.

Boyette said the Willowdale ceremony had been taking place since 1883.

A member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans since 2002, he said he felt a growing desire in recent years to learn more about his ancestors.

"It's something we can't really explain," Boyette said. "It's a yearning to know the truth and to tell the truth." He said history has not been kind to Confederate heritage and added that the Sons of Confederate Veterans work to preserve "heritage, honor, and truth."