Memorial changes proposed

Published 1:50 am Saturday, November 19, 2011

A Washington man wants to make some changes at or near the Confederate memorial in the city-owned Oakdale Cemetery.

During the City Council’s meeting Monday, Joseph Carter Leary, representing the Confederate Graves Committee, asked the council to consider moving two World War 1 6-inch Newton mortars to Veterans Memorial Park after the committee restores them.

“These are very rare mortars, but they’re out there full of trash now,” Leary said. “These are extremely rare, and they need to be restored.”

Leary also asked for permission for two flags to be flown at Oakdale Cemetery, one known as the “Stars and Bars” and the other which appeared to be a combination of the Confederate battle flag and the POW-MIA flag. The “Stars and Bars” flag, the first official flag of the Confederacy, would be flown daily on the flagpole at the entrance to the cemetery where a grouping of cannonballs are located. The combination Confederate battle flag and POW-MIA flag would be flown on Confederate Memorial Day (May 10 of each year) to “honor all our troops, not only Confederate but all from the Revolutionary War right on up,” according to Leary.

Leary also sought permission to install 20 to 30 new tombstones near the Confederate memorial. The tombstones were provided by the Veterans Administration, Leary told the council. The tombstone include the names of Confederate troops, many of them from Beaufort County, killed in the attack on Washington on Sept. 6, 1862.

“They are, in fact, nice stones,” he said.

Leary also asked the council to consider moving a shell from a 10-inch gun on the USS Maine, whose sinking in Havana Harbor helped push the United States into war with Spain in 1898, from in front of the Municipal Building to Veterans Memorial Park.

The council took no action on Leary’s requests.

The following information about the Confederate memorial comes from the state’s tourism website:

“In 1888, Beaufort County became the first in the state to erect a monument honoring its Confederate dead. The monument, a replica of a Confederate soldier placed on a granite pedestal, now stands on the crest of a hill in Oakdale Cemetery. It was originally placed on the slight elevation where Water Street turns into MacNair Street, a location chosen so that ships coming up the Pamlico River would get, as their first glimpse of the town, the Confederate soldier on his pedestal. When a new railroad station was built and railroad activity changed the character of the location, the town decided to move the statue to the new cemetery.”

About Mike Voss

Mike Voss is the contributing editor at the Washington Daily News. He has a daughter and four grandchildren. Except for nearly six years he worked at the Free Lance-Star in Fredericksburg, Va., in the early to mid-1990s, he has been at the Daily News since April 1986.
Journalism awards:
• Pulitzer Prize for Meritorious Public Service, 1990.
• Society of Professional Journalists: Sigma Delta Chi Award, Bronze Medallion.
• Associated Press Managing Editors’ Public Service Award.
• Investigative Reporters & Editors’ Award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Public Service Award, 1989.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Investigative Reporting, 1990.
All those were for the articles he and Betty Gray wrote about the city’s contaminated water system in 1989-1990.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Investigative Reporting, 1991.
• North Carolina Press Association, Third Place, General News Reporting, 2005.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Lighter Columns, 2006.
Recently learned he will receive another award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Lighter Columns, 2010.
4. Lectured at or served on seminar panels at journalism schools at UNC-Chapel Hill, University of Maryland, Columbia University, Mary Washington University and Francis Marion University.

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