Bill Leslie's Carolina Conversations

North Carolina Heroes

Posted April 24, 2007

Who are the North Carolina heroes? Who are the people who have helped make this such a great state? I would like to hear your comments.

I was thinking about this while driving to Morganton to participate in the Senator Sam Ervin statue unveiling at the Burke County Courthouse. Senator Sam died 22 years ago after a distinguished career in Washington.

During his last term he served as chairman of the Senate Watergate Committee and became a national hero for getting to the bottom of the Washington scandal with his down-home wit, constitutional knowledge and his probing questions.

Senator Sam called himself "just a country lawyer." He failed to mention that he was a Harvard: Law School graduate. Though he never talked about it Ervin was also a highly decorated soldier for his courage while fighting in France during World War I.

Shortly after joining the Senate Sam Ervin helped investigate the "red scare" and masterfully brought down Senator Joe McCarthy with a brilliant speech about individual rights and freedoms.

Ervin retired in Morganton to "watch the glorious sunsets over Table Rock." Townspeople still celebrate his life with a great sense of reverence.

I had the pleasure of knowing Sam myself beginning at age five as ring bearer in his daughter Laura's wedding. Later I remember Sam trading stories with my father. I recall the personal warmth of Sam Ervin when I was a junior in high school. Sam was there consoling my family on a cold November night after my father died unexpectedly.

Five words sum up Sam Ervin in my opinion: brilliant, funny, courageous, kind and gracious. I would rank him number one on my North Carolina heroes list.


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  • cagerat42 Apr 26, 2007

    I agree with Andy Griffith.One of the best North Carolinians to date.However what about all the sports heros.Enos Slaughter,Gaylord Perry,Jim"Catfish"Hunter,Michael Jordan just to name a few.

  • rchill Apr 25, 2007

    I vote for Gov. Hunt

  • TheDude abides... Apr 25, 2007

    NC has a rich history of bravery and sacrifice. Lets not forget our many civil war heroes. Generals Harvey Hill, Leonidas Polk, Dorsey Pender, Robert Ransom, Bryan Grimes, Braxton Bragg, Robert Hoke, Stephen Ramseur were all considered heroes before, but have been forgotten. The average NC Civil war soldier should be remembered as well. One of every four confederate soldiers was a tarheel. As was one in every four casualties. And the VAST majority didnt even own slaves. No other state (save virginia) produced so many high ranking general officers. Its good to see our states great military tradition continues.

  • Silver loves Rebel Red puppies Apr 25, 2007

    Fire Department Volumnteer Personnel have my vote, any department, any county. They risk their lives on their own time, all hours of the day or night, for no pay and little if any recognition, to protect the lives and properties of their neighbors in their communities.

  • mydaddy3 Apr 25, 2007

    With May being National Foster Care Month I would like to mention all of the foster parents in the state as heroes.

  • wolfdog777 Apr 25, 2007

    Who's a hero, Andy Griffith or the soldiers at Ft Bragg dying to preserve our freedom and safety? "Hero" is thrown around too much these days.

  • kitelover110 Apr 24, 2007

    Carl Sandburg and Paul Greene should make the list also along with jurists like Susie Sharpe and Pou Bailey and Elizabeth McCubbins for her work with female inmates in NC. There are so many great North Carolinians, the list could go on forever.

  • billybob72 Apr 24, 2007

    Major General William C. Lee, the "Father of the Airborne" was a native of Dunn and a relative of mine. Against resistance, he advocated the formation of US Airborne units (101st and 82nd) prior to WWII, and oversaw the initial training as the first commander. Unfortunately, a stroke put him out of service just prior to D-Day, but he laid the foundation for these great fighting units.

  • Ashen-Shugar Apr 24, 2007

    Conrad Reed, started the gold rush in N.C., wish I had that kind of luck. Andrew Jackson, man of the people.

    Had the misfortune of meeting Andy Griffith. May have been good on the show, but the rudest person I've ever met.

  • just my2cents Apr 24, 2007

    Andy Griffith, or atleast the character, Billy Graham, Hugh Shelton, and any military personel from this great state.
    Hmmm, I will think some more.




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