Feelings run deep
In the eastern section of the Old Chapel Hill Cemetery there are 361 people who were buried without markers. A grave marker was placed in the cemetery to honor these people.
Earlier this week I received a call from Tammy Grubb, reporter for the Chapel Hill Newspaper. She informed me that the town was removing the grave marker. At first I could not believe it.
This was followed by a feeling of dismay and great sadness. Up until that time, no one had informed me that there was any criticism of the marker. No one.
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Yet, now the marker has been removed. It is a fact. We should cooperate to bring about a satisfactory resolution. We should not contend with one another. The people we want to honor would not want that. We should not go forward in anger. Let us recognize that there are honest and sincere feelings about this. This is a subject where feelings run deep.
The last thing in the world I want to do is to upset folks about this. Right now, I apologize to anyone who found my words objectionable. I’m sorry. Please forgive me. Thank you. I love you.
When everyone has a chance to be heard, and a marker has been placed in the cemetery. Let us have a wonderful dedication ceremony, embrace each other, and, finally, at long last, honor those who were dishonored and belittled in life and then forgotten in death.
Editor’s note: The writer proposed the inscription on the marker, basng it on the words on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
Many decades ago this white boy was starting out in real estate in this town. It was the “people of color” that gave him his first, second, and third chance to be successful. I have never forgotten that.
I will forever be grateful to these very fine people, these pillars in their community, thet gave me so much help and their friendship over the years. Anyone familiar with this town should know that there were many distinguished citizens in our black community. It was their ancestors that Judge Peele was honoring, and rightfully so. It was the Caldwells, Hargarves, Edwards, Masons, and Brooks families that befriended me. And it was their ancestors that Judge Peele was trying to honor.
Shame on the town for removing it, even temporarily, without anything to replace it.
I call on the town leaders to immediately remedy this embarrassing situation.
A kind gesture
I thought placing the marker for unknown persons in the old Chapel Hill cemetery was an honorable thing to do.
In northern Durham County there are several old burying grounds with a lot of slave graves and no markers. The white graves are also old and neglected. Some of them belong to my husband’s ancestors.
I thought Judge Peele’s gesture was most commendable. I don’t see why anyone would object to having a marker inscribed with the same words that are used for unknown soldiers. Judge Peele’s kind gesture was misunderstood; everyone who had once lived in Chapel Hill and was buried in the old cemetery was to be remembered
My husband’s family is buried in the old Chapel Hill cemetery His aunts, his uncles, grandfather, grandmother, his parents and younger brother. My husband is also there. The old white families are there and also the black folks who took care of these families. Young men who fought and died in the Civil war and in both world wars. It’s a cemetery full of both recent history and that of two centuries ago. Judge Peele tried to see that no one was forgotten. Yet some people at UNC and the NAACP and those in the preservation society have criticized it.
He tried to put things right by remembering those forgotten both black and white people who lie in the unmarked graves.
We get down to semantics, and to old-fashioned wording. The idea was gracious and beautiful that someone at last cared enough to put up a marker.
Now small-minded people want to criticize something that was generous and a thought-provoking gesture.
Put the marker back up, and Chapel Hill don’t be forever criticizing and protesting against kind and thoughtful gifts. Be grateful for Judge Peele’s sense of history. No one else ever thought of having a marker in the cemetery for those forgotten.
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