Sam will return to UNC campus for another year (correction).


It appears you can't keep a good man down.

Or, depending upon on which side of the issue you stand, a bad one, either.

Silent Sam, the Confederate Civil War soldier who has stood sentry in the middle of UNC's campus for 105 years - but who was recently toppled by students who view him as a symbol of the state's past best forgotten - will apparently be returning to his previous perch as soon as he gets a little R&R and TLC.

In an earlier column, thesaundersreport.com reported that the State Historical Commission's monument commission had recommended moving Sam and three other monuments to the Bentonville battleground.

WE WERE WRONG: That solomonic suggestion came from Gov. Cooper, not the commission. The commission, soon after we published that piece, rejected Cooper's recommendation, meaning Sam will return to his longtime position guarding the campus.

The commission did recommend that memorials honoring African Americans be erected, which led me to call my pal in Goldsboro, attorney Tommy Jarrett, to see who he thought would be a suitable candidate for such memorialization.

Of course, I knew who he'd say: Goldsboro native Dan Bullock. Bullock joined the U.S. Marine Corps in 1968 at 14-years-old, was immediately shipped to Vietnam, and was killed three months after getting there.

He became the youngest U.S. serviceman killed in that war. He was 15.

As Jarrett , a Marine Corps vet said when he was lobbying the recalcitrant N.C. Highway Historical Marker Advisory Committee to erect a marker honoring Bullock, "While others were running away from serving their country... Dan ran towards the war, not from it."

Only the indefatigability of Jarrett and other concerned citizens led to the marker - a marker - being erected: Jarrett now thinks Bullock would be the perfect candidate for a statue on state Capitol grounds.

So do I: I think Sam and Dan would have a lot to talk about.

Even if they didn't, they both deserve recognition for making the ultimate sacrifice for what they considered a noble cause.

They both personify - one as a real human being, the other as a symbol - what Don Quixote meant when he sang in "The Impossible Dream":

To fight for the right

without question or pause

To be willing to march into hell

for a heavenly cause.

And I know

if I'll only be true

to this glorious quest

That my heart will lie peaceful and calm

when I'm laid to my rest.

As much as I loathe the cause for which Sam fought, I think the dude deserves to be honored by those who find him heroic.

Let's just be thankful he lost.


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Meet Barry Saunders

For over 20 years, Barry was a columnist for The News & Observer in Raleigh, NC. He also wrote for other publications, such as the Atlanta Constitution and the Richmond County Daily Journal. Often described as powerfully honest and illustratively funny, Barry's writing is both loved and hated by readers- sometimes simultaneously.  

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