By Jerry McRoy, [email protected]
Today, I sent a letter to the Chief Justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court regarding the ILLEGAL REMOVAL of our Pitt County Confederate Soldier’s Monument in June 2020. If you would like to present your views to the Judge, I’ve included his contact information (mailing address) below.
Judge Paul Newby
North Carolina Supreme Court
PO Box 1841
Raleigh, NC 27602
I understand you likely don’t have time to personally read all correspondence that comes your way but whether it’s you or an assistant or a colleague, I appreciate your attention to my letter.
I reside in Pitt County. I am a native of North Carolina and was actually born in Greenville. Along life’s highway, I have served in the US Army in Europe and worked in the pharmaceutical / biotech industry for 40 years. Approximately 18 years of my career involved living and working in the northeastern states of Massachusetts and New Jersey. I am now fortunate enough to have made it to retirement and Thank God every day for that blessing.
After living in the northeast for so many years, I have seen firsthand the way the War Between the States is viewed by northerners. Their pervasive displays of memorials and monuments creates a profound sadness within me that the devoted Southern veterans of that same war are viewed with such hatred and disrespect by some politicians and some segments of our population. I believe the falsehoods being perpetrated regarding the Confederacy and the reasons for that very unnecessary war are a gross misrepresentation of factual history.
Although I am deeply concerned about many issues in America today, this letter is focused on a single, local, Pitt County issue; the take down of our Confederate Soldier’s Monument at the Pitt County Courthouse in June 2020. I am one of a small group of dedicated Southern Patriots who have been advocating for our local monument for about 1 ½ years. (Since before it came down.)
Our group believes our monument was ILLEGALLY removed and should have been protected under North Carolina’s Chapter 100. “Monuments, Memorials and Parks” / Specifically § 100-2.1. “Protection of monuments, memorials, and works of art.” This key legislation was passed in 2015 and signed into law by then-Governor Pat McCrory to prevent local and state politicians from weaponizing race issues and disseminating false narratives of North Carolina history in their unbridled zeal to erase Southern history and heritage.
Our Pitt County monument was privately funded, donated to the PEOPLE of Pitt County, was a facially-neutral monument, and was dedicated in November of 1914. The monument was sponsored / funded by the United Daughters of the Confederacy and the key inscriptions read; “Our Confederate Dead” and “Erected by the People of Pitt County in Grateful Remembrance of the Courage and Fortitude of Her Confederate Soldiers.” It is a simple, proud, and stunning memorial, dedicated to the lives of soldiers who gave their last full measure. It honored lives, just as cemetery headstones do. In addition, it is a monument reflecting upon a critically important period in our American and North Carolina history. It is a solemn monument of remembrance.
Our monument stood through over a century of wind, rain, cold, heat, and hurricanes; but was taken down by a sinister group of local politicians who pandered to a group of hoodlums who roamed the streets of Greenville on May 31, 2020 (during the supposed height of the Covid pandemic) creating unrestrained pandemonium. Although this out-of-control group of radical protestors set fires, broke windows, looted stores, and sprayed graffiti throughout Greenville’s downtown district, our commissioners deduced the group’s only intended target was our Confederate Soldiers Monument.
Seven of our nine Commissioners, in their haste to REMOVE our beautiful monument, showed compete deference to those creating destruction and mayhem, while showing absolutely no respect to those constituents whose family history includes soldiers who fought and died to protect the county and state they loved.
We can’t erase history or shove it down into the dark recesses of history books that are never read, merely because some people find the “story” offensive. History is not a series of events that entertain the senses and delight the soul; sometimes it is painful to some people and sometimes it serves as a reminder of a time in our past when we didn’t live up to our founding principles (that all men are created equal and endowed with certain inalienable rights). But still, it’s a part of history. It’s a part of how we got to today. It provides an opportunity for individuals to discuss, debate, and learn; it provides an opportunity to share their views. And in the particular case of North Carolina, it is an honorable bit of history.
North Carolina, acting in convention, decided she did not want to secede, as did several other Southern states. She wanted to remain loyal to the Union, even though she believed the government had been hijacked by the northern states to push their interests above those of other states. After the Fort Sumter incident, President Lincoln, through his Secretary of War, sent a telegram to the Governor of North Carolina, John Ellis, and demanded the state provide 75,000 troops. Governor Ellis, believing it was not the function of the “common government” to force one state to invade and inflict violence on another neighboring state, therefore responded: “You will get no troops from North Carolina.” Another convention was called and in a unanimous decision, the delegates voted to secede from the Union. North Carolina seceded not because of slavery but because of its belief in the principles included in the Declaration of Independence.
On June 15, 2020 during a Pitt County Commissioners Meeting, it was voted 7 – 2 to REMOVE the Pitt County Confederate Soldiers Monument. (Even though the meeting format was Zoom, the call-in public outcry on both sides of the issue was overwhelming; but only one side was considered by the 7 errant commissioners.) The devious work of REMOVING our monument commenced during the middle of the night on June 22, 2020. The following day, the remainder of the monument was REMOVED and the 3-level base was jackhammered to destroy it. (Instead of simply removing the base, which was created using solid blocks of stone material.) We believe the base was destroyed because the group (7 commissioners voting for REMOVAL) never intended to allow our monument to see the light of day again.
In subsequent meetings of an assembled group (chosen by the Board of Commissioners), labeled the Monument Relocation Committee, three meetings were held without recorded minutes, in violation of the state’s Open Meetings Laws (Chapter 143 – Article 33C [ncleg.net] a.k.a. “Meetings of Public Bodies.”) I can personally attest to this fact because I was one of four chosen citizen members of the committee.
There are many more background facts and charges in this case but I will summarize to avoid a lengthy discourse.
The most terrible thing about this whole case is the lack of response from the county government. Although members of our group have appealed to the Pitt County Commissioners at a number of commissioner meetings regarding the restoration of our monument and confronted them regarding their illicit decision / behavior, we have been absolutely ignored. Our e-mails, our correspondence, our phone calls, and our presence at commissioner meetings have come to nothing fruitful.
Further, our visits to the county courthouse and magistrate’s office to inquire about bringing charges against the commissioners or filing an actionable lawsuit have come to nothing.
To be honest, we have come to believe that elected officials can violate the will of the people, can violate their own Code of Conduct / sworn oath, can violate county ordinances, can violate state laws, can violate federal law and totally get away with it. The burden is on anyone who would dare to confront them. It seems the law enforcement community is not on the side of the citizens, nor the local court system, nor the local district attorney, and certainly not county government.
We understand a lawsuit brought by the North Carolina Sons of Confederate Veterans is on its way to your court to challenge similar cases in a couple of North Carolina counties but we are not well informed on that legal proceeding, nor can we predict the potential outcomes or the range of any resulting actions.
Bottom line Judge Newby: We’re frustrated by the systematic erasure of North Carolina history and heritage. Most in our group are directly descended from men who fought and / or died in the War Between the States. Our local Confederate Soldiers Monument was one of commemoration. To reiterate, its primary inscription reads, “Our Confederate Dead.” It was not a war memorial. It did not exhibit soldiers in attack mode, with swords drawn or weapons firing. At its peak stood a single Confederate soldier at parade rest; the stand-down position. Our monument was a tribute, a commemorative remembrance, a collective headstone to remember the soldiers who gave their lives for Pitt County and North Carolina in the most terrible conflict that was ever fought on American soil. Just as it is horribly unacceptable to walk through a cemetery destroying headstones of the dead, it is just as abhorrent to destroy monuments to local soldiers who gave their last full measure to their homeland. Those solders deserved honor and our Pitt County Commissioners (7 of 9) callously took away that honor.
Please help us in our quest to attain justice and restore our revered Confederate Soldiers Monument to its proper place of prominence.
Thank You Sir for your consideration.
Jerry W. McRoy
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