Black Civil War veterans honored with new Virginia memorial

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Ahead of Veteran’s Day, Culpeper County, Virginia has unveiled a new memorial for Black Civil War veterans.

The memorial highlights stories of some of the most prominent figures in the war, NBC Washington reports. Now, their family members are filling in gaps in their stories where needed. The memorial celebrates Black soldiers, the majority of whom were recently freed from slavery, who marched and fought in the war.

President Abraham Lincoln said it was Black troops who made the ultimate difference in the Civil War.

Eugene Triplett, who learned not too long ago that he’s a descendent of a Black Civil War soldier that fought for the Union in the United States Colored Troops, was a huge part of getting the memorial up and running.

“Finding your history is like looking for a needle in a haystack. We’re trying to find the haystack,” he told NBC Washington. “To find out that my great-great-grandfather actually served, actually fought in this area, actually marched down this road on his way to the Battle of the Wilderness and all, it just opened my eyes to how much of our history is not told.”

Howard Lambder of the Freedom Foundation Virginia says the soldiers sacrificed more than anyone of today can understand. “[They were] people who wanted freedom, willing to fight for it, be persistent in their dreams, to endure and to sacrifice for their families,” he said. “This is the story of America.”

The granite monument honors three soldiers. But, their names will never be known.  A Confederate soldier wrote of their final chapter. The three soldiers were captured, executed and their bodies were left lying in the fields.

“I know that we’re in a lot of transition on what we’re commemorating and what we’re acknowledging. You always hope for monuments that get the story right,” NBC Washington noted one person who attended the ceremony said.

Community members who are alive today say they still feel connected to the stories.

“My mother sung in this choir,” said one woman who attended the ceremony while pointing to a photo on the memorial.

The memorial in Culpeper County will have added QR codes at some point. With the codes, visitors will be able to scan them with their smartphones and hear stories of American heroes.

Story & Photo Credit: Brenda Alexander/thegrio