A Monumental Task: Honoring Carolina’s Fallen, by Name

Memorial Hall was so named as an honor, in part, to sons of the University who died in the Civil War. In Memorial’s renovation, the marble tablets bearing their names are being returned to their familiar spaces flanking the stage.

Now, three alumni who went through Carolina’s Naval ROTC program have proposed something quite a bit more ambitious: A memorial on the grounds next to the auditorium that would include the names of all UNC alumni who gave their lives in military service.

The trustees have approved the idea, the majority of the estimated $286,000 budget has been raised, Seattle artist Maggie Smith has submitted a preliminary design – and now comes the hard part. How do you amass a comprehensive list of those who died in wars and conflicts, in training, and as a result of wounds or illness long after cessation of hostilities – going back the better part of 200 years?

“The idea for this project came to mind after I visited Normandy in the late ’80s or early ’90s,” said Robert Eaves ’58. “It came to me, we didn’t have a place on campus to honor people who died in service to their country.” Eaves and NROTC alumni Sherwood Smith ’56 and Charles Winston ’53 initiated the campaign to build a memorial.

A committee has decided to use the Department of Defense definition of conflict as part of the criteria for inclusion. Those who died in training exercises, even in peacetime, will be included, as well as those whose deaths are traceable to their connection to earlier military service.

Records of the General Alumni Association begin with World War I. Other sources will have to be used, for instance, for the War of 1812, the Mexican and Spanish-American wars. Another challenge will be to identify any alumni who wore the Union blue in the war between the states.

The memorial, to be called “A Memorial to Carolina Alumni Who Made the Ultimate Sacrifice for the United States of America,” has been designed for the area on Cameron Avenue between Memorial and Phillips halls. It would have an inscription on a pedestal near the street, and the names could be presented on drawer-like leaves that could be pulled out of the pedestal. The artist’s rendering above shows a long bench close to the street that points in the direction of the Old Well along with a series of rock walls amid trees and lighting. In the center would be a walkway into which the artist hopes to engrave excerpts from war correspondence.

The committee plans to create a Web site that would list existing names and serve as a vehicle for obtaining others.

Individuals with information on names to be included or with war correspondence to share with the artist should call Sam Magill ’50 at (919) 962-9694 or Marie Nesnow at 843-5809 in the UNC Office of Development.