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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — A new historical marker now stands on the side of Market Street in Wilmington. It honors the Civil War efforts of slaves and free blacks who fought in the Port City.

“Nothing has ever been done to give any honor or recognition to these men here, so I only seen fit that something be done,” historical marker project chair Frederick Johnson said.

Johnson is a Korean War vet and proud American. He came up with the idea to honor the men who served as United States Colored Troops in the Civil War.

Sonya Bennetone is the great granddaughter and great grand niece of three of those men.

“The reason the slaves were freed is because they needed the man power, and we feel so empowered that the United States Colored Troops had a big part in turning the Civil War around,” Bennetone.

About 500 US Colored Troops are thought to be buried in Wilmington. Ninety-two members, 88 black soldiers and four white officers, are buried in Wilmington National Cemetery. The historical marker now stands outside its gates.

“They have a section here basically where the blacks are buried at, and the part I like about it is it’s on a hill. It’s on a hill, and that makes me feel even better. Although they may be near the back of the cemetery, but they’re on a hill, high, looking down,” Johnson said.

“It’s very empowering, makes you feel good about being an American, you know, that it means something, being an American in the United States,” Bennetone said.

The unveiling ceremony is also part of the Civil War Sesquicentennial, which remembers the 150th anniversary of the War Between the States.

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