Over the course of three years (1941-1943), The United Daughters of the Confederacy planted 125,000 Red Spruce trees along the Blue Ridge Parkway. The trees were meant to be a living reminder of the Confederate soldiers North Carolina sent to the Civil War. Among those are 40,000 who died during the war.
The North Carolina Confederate Veterans Memorial Forest
Marker along the Blue Ridge Parkway at milepost 422
near Devil's Courthouse (click to enlarge and read)
The forest was dedicated in July of 1942 by Josephus Daniels, well-known publisher and former Secretary of the Navy. He seems almost to have compared the South in the Civil War to Europe under the Nazis. But you can judge that for yourself. He said, in part, "The Southern people, aided by noble patriots in the North, overcame military rule and regained control of their affairs. They have no doubt the suffering European nations will throw off rule by force and once again order their own way of life." Remember this was 1942. The forest was re-dedicated in 1956.
People outside our state may not think North Carolina played much of a role in the Civil War. It is not truly the "deep South" and did not border the Mason-Dixon line. However, battles were indeed fought here and almost every small town square has a large statue of the Confederate Soldier. The statue in front of the old court house building in Morganton, NC, lists the names of many of my ancestors who fought and died in the war.
Confederate statue in Morganton, NC
(photograph by h perez)
Among the casualties at the Battle of Gettysburg, one in FOUR who died were from the army of North Carolina.
There are continuing arguments about the political correctness of honoring Confederate veterans. My beliefs are relatively simple. The Confederate flag, rightly or wrongly, has become a symbol of extreme racism and its presence (except in historical museums) is offensive. It should not be displayed. Monuments, however are to honor men who died in service. They are part of our heritage and should not be ignored.