Kinston Free Press
Memorial Site and Civil War Battlefield
December 12, 2004
Sam King said he and his brother, Wil,
spent time as young boys playing on the grounds where the First Battle
of Kinston was fought, pretending to be soldiers in that battle. On
Saturday, that battlefield was dedicated in Wil King's honor.
History buffs and other interested
parties gathered Saturday to celebrate the dedication of the First
Battle of Kinston Battlefield and Wil King Memorial.
Wil King died in 2003. He devoted much
of his time to preserving Lenoir County's Civil War history.
"He understood well what the past could
mean to our future," said Jane Phillips, president of the Historical
Preservation Group. "He felt strongly about people learning the true
story about the Civil War - both the good and the bad."
Completing the site took 18 months of
"We hope that we can preserve that part
of the history and educate people about what happened here," said
Lonnie Blizzard, chairman of the Lenoir County Battlefields
The battlefield, at Meadowbrook and
Harriet drives behind King's Restaurant, was where the first Union
soldiers crossed Kinston. Former Lenoir County Commissioner Oscar
Herring said it is important to celebrate Lenoir County's Civil War
"This is an exciting day in Lenoir
County," Herring said. "We must preserve our history because if we
don't, it will be lost to future generations."
The dedication honored all the men who
fought in the Civil War - Confederate, Union, black and white. Kinston
Mayor Johnnie Mosley encouraged the groups involved in preserving the
battlefields to remember all groups in their efforts.
"We have a diverse population," Mosley
said. "We should be participating as a unit. ¬. We must find a way to
have all of us participating in the history we are preserving."
Dale Theetge, commander of the N.Y. Sons
of Union Veterans, said the men who fought in the war had a lot in
common despite their differences. Dedicating the site is an important
way to honor those who fought.
"We need to remember that there were men
who fought and died here and honor that memory," Theetge said. "As
long as we do that, they will not have died in vain."
Confederate representative Bob Tolar
said visiting battle sites and honoring the memory of those who fought
is not honoring war.
"Other countries had civil wars. ¬. What
sets America apart is, when (the war) was over, it was over," Tolar
said. "That's what makes America a great country. ¬. America didn't
just happen; it was people like our ancestors - North, South, black