“Simply honoring a lost soldier”

This is a letter to the editor that appeared in yesterday’s York Daily Record:

I feel I must respond to all the recent negative editorials of a recent rededication ceremony for a Confederate along the river. First, the marker was not a tribute to any action or fighting the Confederates did around Wrightsville. It was a replacement tombstone so his gravesite would not be lost to history. Unless years of flooding have done otherwise, the remains of that man are still buried there. So to say it’s terrible to honor the actions of the Confederacy but to forget the actions of the black soldier who died defending Wrightsville is erroneous. No one was honoring that Confederate soldier’s actions or the confederacy but merely dedicating a replaced tombstone.

The body of the black soldier, killed during the fighting according to local newspaper accounts was buried in a “local negro cemetery,” most likely Zion Hill cemetery in Columbia. That cemetery holds the remains of numerous black soldiers from the area, even ones who fought in the famed 54th Massachusetts. A lot of the graves are marked, some with mere wooden crosses. Some with regular military tombstones. He had a much more dignified burial actually making it into a cemetery. There have been numerous undertakings over the years from groups like the boy scouts to preserve that cemetery.

So to say nothing was ever done for that soldier is wrong. His cemetery is being preserved. The Confederate buried along the river never even had the dignity to be buried in a cemetery. Hence the need to preserve the location of his grave, and that was the only intent of the recent ceremony.

The concept of our current Memorial Day holiday is said to have originated from Southern women placing flowers on the graves of Union soldiers and stating they hoped some Union mother would do the same for their lost son buried in the North. That’s what took place during the ceremony along the Susquehanna. In keeping with the tradition of Memorial Day. I for one think York County should be proud to stand up and say we kept the Civil War tradition of Memorial Day alive.


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