Saturday morning, members of the North Carolina Sons of Confederate Veterans - Jackson Rangers Camp No. 1917 and the public gathered at the Macon County Historical Museum in order to dedicate a recovered grave marker. The event took place just days before Veterans Day.
The space in front of the courthouse, according to museum curator Robert Shook, is the last known surrender of the Confederate Army in the Civil War. That piece of history alone makes it a perfect place for the marker to be anchored into the ground.
“It was common for Confederate grave markers to be stolen from soldiers' graves,” said Commander Mike Parris. “These soldiers who went out and fought for their homes and what they believed in, they fought for state's rights and then died as a result. They were so disrespected that somebody felt the need to steal their grave markers.”
Last month, Franklin resident Gerald “Mack” McCall donated a rare Spencer Rifle to the museum that was manufactured during the Civil War and likely used since they were commonly carried by Union soldiers. He came across the rifle when he traded a shotgun for it. McCall's grandfather served in the Civil War and rode with Confederate General Robert E. Lee. After presenting the rifle to Shook, he commented on the need for remembrance of Civil War veterans.
“I wish more people would salute these Confederate soldiers,” said McCall. “A lot of them were just kids when they went off to fight. A lot of them were killed.”
On Saturday, the dedicated group did just that as they held prayer and spoke at length about the sacrifices that many Confederate soldiers made. The camp ended the ceremony by giving a 21-gun salute in honor of the unknown soldier whose grave the marker represented.
“We honor these men because they were our grandfathers,” said Jackson. “If you want to honor your grandfathers, let us know and we'll do this for them too.”
A list of Macon County soldiers that fought in the Civil War can be found at the historical museum.