New Confederate Marker Unveiled at Fort Fisher

May 2, 2017

Confederate Memorial Day is a state holiday in North Carolina, officially observed on May 10. Six other states celebrate the holiday. It’s not without controversy. In New Orleans, Confederate monuments are now being removed from public places. Meanwhile, at Fort Fisher, a new interpretive marker was just dedicated next to the Confederate Monument. The service was more about men … than soldiers.

(Music) “For I am your God … and will still give you aid … I’ll strengthen you and help you and cause you to stand … "

On a windy Saturday morning at the shore of Fort Fisher, a young woman is singing How Firm a Foundation, a Christian hymn that was a favorite of Confederate General Robert E. Lee and sung at his funeral.

On this occasion, a new marker is being dedicated at the Confederate Monument on Battle Acre. Dozens of relatives of Confederate soldiers are on hand for the service.

“Because we need to honor our history. A people without history are not a people.”

Peggy Johnson is the president of the North Carolina chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy. She says these services are not about war.

“I knew my grandfather, who knew his confederate grandfathers, and they didn’t talk about the glories of war. They talked about what good men they were.”

“And so that’s why it’s important. To remember my papa, and his papas, and what they brought to this country.”

(Music) “What so proudly we hail, at the twilights last gleaming ….”  

While in places such as New Orleans, monuments relating to the Confederacy are being removed from public property by the city, historians say that won’t be necessary at Fort Fisher. Historian John Moseley says this is about education.

“I think Confederate Memorial Days are important because it helps us learn about our past. Whether you are right of the political spectrum, left of the political spectrum, these are people who whether you are Union or Confederate fought and bled for what they believed in, and that is the key important part.”

Patricia Gasson is a past president of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, and a bit spirited when it comes to Confederate Memorial Days.

“It’s important to us because this is our heritage, this is our ancestors. We love them and respect what they did. They fought for what they believed in. They fought for their country, they fought for their family, their God, their cause. A just cause. We don’t apologize for it.”

Dale Coleman Spencer is here to honor her ancestors.

“When you hear people going – ‘Confederate soldiers, they were racist, they fought for slavery’ – that was my three times great grandfather. He’s my family. He fought for what he believed in, and his blood runs through my veins, so I’m just as rebel as he was.”

Again, Fort Fisher historian John Moseley.

“Our past needs to be remembered, and when you throw away their past you really have no sense of what things happened and why they happened, and why people made the decisions they had to.” 

Confederate Memorial Day is a public holiday observed here and in Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, South Carolina, Louisiana and Texas.

(Music) “Away, away, away down South in Dixie….”

Hear an in-depth discussion on CoastLine about the practice of publicly memorializing the Confederacy.