A newly dedicated memorial in Culpeper County tells the story of some of the most important figures in the Civil War—and their descendants are filling in untold gaps in American history.
The memorial stands in honor of the Black soldiers, many recently freed from slavery, who marched and fought the Confederacy.
Eugene Triplett, who recently learned he's a descendent of a Black Civil War soldier who fought for the Union in the United States Colored Troops, helped make it a reality.
"Finding your history is like looking for a needle in a haystack. We're trying to find the haystack,” he said. "To find out that my great-great-grandfather actually served, actually fought in this area, actually marched down this road on his way to the Battle of the Wilderness and all, it just opened my eyes to how much of our history is not told.”
The soldiers who ran from the South to fight for the North were “people who wanted freedom, willing to fight for it, be persistent in their dreams, to endure and to sacrifice for their families,” Howard Lambert, of the Freedom Foundation Virginia, said.
“This is the story of America,” he said.
The granite monument honors three specific soldiers whose names will never be known, because it was a Confederate soldier who wrote of their final chapter.
They were captured, executed and their bodies were left lying in the fields.
"I know that we're in a lot of transition on what we're commemorating and what we're acknowledging. You always hope for monuments that get the story right,” one person who attended the ceremony said.
Community members alive today still have connections to that story.
"My mother sung in this choir,” one woman said while pointing to a photo on the informational placard by the memorial.
Eventually the memorial in Culpeper County will add QR codes, so visitors will be able to scan them with their smartphone and hear new stories of the American heroes.
President Lincoln said it was Black troops who made the ultimate difference in the war. When the sun rises this Veterans Day, the duty will shift to the public to honor the brave and the unforgotten.