“I found a wounded Federal sitting on the field – a broken thigh, a rifle ball through his arm and a bruised shoulder made him right helpless. … He asked me if I thought our surgeons would care for him. I assured him they would. He said he had a wife and two little children. ….” – Alexander Davis Betts, Civil War.
Betts’ quote is one of 16 from or about UNC alumni that are part of a new memorial dedicated April 12.
Titled “Carolina Alumni Memorial in Memory of Those Lost in Military Service,” the installation, on Cameron Avenue between Phillips and Memorial halls, honors University alumni who were killed during wartime, from the Civil War to the Gulf War. To date, the war in Iraq has claimed no Carolina graduates.
The names of all 684 known alumni who perished are listed in a bronze Book of Names with pull-out panels. Space has been left for additional names that were not discovered in research for the memorial, as well as those who may be lost in the future.
The memorial also consists of a long bench near Cameron Avenue that points to the Old Well. The street side is a stone wall like those common across campus. The other side, facing the rest of the memorial, is a red sandstone bench inscribed with a quote from Look Homeward, Angel, a novel by Thomas Wolfe ’20. The bench faces six low stone walls and 10 small blooming trees, bisected by a sidewalk with the quotes inscribed.
UNC System President Emeritus William C. Friday ’48 (LLB), a World War II veteran, spoke. His remarks are available online. Chancellor James Moeser presided and current ROTC students presented the colors. Approximately 45 ROTC midshipmen and cadets also attended in dress uniform.
Guests included Chapel Hill businessman Robert W. Eaves ’58, who conceived the idea for the memorial while visiting the American cemetery in Normandy. “It came to me that we didn’t have a place on campus to honor people who died in service to their country,” Eaves said.
Back home, Eaves recruited fellow ROTC Carolina alumni Sherwood H. Smith Jr. ’56 (Navy) and Charles M. Winston Sr. ’53 (Air Force) of Raleigh. The three headed a committee that raised $300,000 for the memorial, mostly from ROTC alumni, and beginning in 2002, the GAA’s Records Department began working to assemble the names.
Smith is the retired CEO of Carolina Power & Light Co. (now Progress Energy); Winston is a retired businessman who has chaired the GAA Board of Directors and received the GAA’s Distinguished Service Medal and a Davie Award, the highest honor bestowed by the UNC Board of Trustees.
Maggie Smith of Washington state, artist and designer for the memorial, and relatives of fallen Carolina alumni also are expected. The Book of Names was unveiled by Will and Marsha Connor of Marcellus, N.Y., whose son Patrick Connor ’87 was killed in the Gulf War, and Sandra Snyder Drew ’71, whose husband Nelson Drew ’70 died in Bosnia in 1995.
Eaves was on the committee that raised $5.1 million toward the $18 million renovation of Memorial Hall, completed in 2005. Constructed in 1931, the building – the main auditorium on campus for the performing arts and University ceremonies – was a memorial to David Lowry Swain, president of the University from 1835-68 and the state’s governor from 1831-35. It also memorialized alumni who died in the Civil War and World War I, as well as notable alumni and North Carolinians. Eaves realized that alumni lost in other conflicts had no memorial on campus.
Now, alumni who served in Korea, Vietnam, the World Wars and others – or others who observed their service – share sentiments and stories on the sidewalk.
“In the sacrifice that your son and others like him have made, I hope that all of us will live and work toward the end of eliminating war from the earth.” – J. Maryon “Spike” Saunders ’25, on James Atkins, World War II. Saunders served as alumni secretary for the GAA for 43 years. He died in 1995.
Anyone who believes a friend’s or a relative’s name should be added should contact the GAA’s Records Department.
CORRECTION, April 16, 2007
The original report posted on April 12 incorrectly identified the number of UNC alumni who are included in the Book of Names. This report includes the correct number, 684.