BRUNSWICK COUNTY, NC (WECT) – The family of a Brunswick County war hero wants to memorialize his grave site, but by law, they won't get any help from the U.S. government or the Department of Veterans' Affairs.
Joseph Monroe was a Brunswick County man who fought in the Union Army during the Civil War.
He was laid to rest back in 1922, but walking past his grave site along Highway 211 in Brunswick County, you would never know he served his country.
Monroe's great grandson, Donnie Joyner, asked the government to furnish a military marker for his grave, so onlookers could determine that he did, in fact, serve in the military. However, the Department of Veterans' Affairs said they only provide military markers to veterans who died after November 1, 1990 and only if the grave is unmarked. Joyner says that he even offered to pay for the headstone replacement himself. However, the government still said no.
"His son fought in WW2, his grandson in WW2, great grandson's in Vietnam and his great, great grandson's in Afghanistan and Iraq and you can't even give him a headstone even if the family is paying for it," Joyner said. "Shame on you."
The family plans to hire a private company to build a personalized tombstone in Monroe's honor. But that's not all.
The family is also uncovering other hidden truths in that graveyard, through a process called "dowsing."
Tim Stritter is a family genealogist. He explained to us that grave dowsing is an age-old art that has been used for centuries to locate water, electrical lines, and graves. The family of Monroe didn't believe it at first, but as we learned, grave sites can produce a strange type of energy that may startle you.
"As I cross that energy field, which is the body down here, the rods open back up," said Stritter. "So that's the other edge of the body."
Made from two metal coat hangers cut at the neck, the dowsing rods should be held at a 45 degree angle, parallel to the ground, and directly in front of your body. As legend has it, if a body is present, the rods will start to move.
"There's not any big vibration," said Stritter. "You just start to feel the energy."
The process is used to locate missing graves. Yes, we had our doubts too, but then, Monroe's grand-daughter, Merriam Reid, who had never seen dowsing before in her life, grabbed a hold of the rods. Then, we all became believers.
"Oh, Gee," said Reid, as the rods moved back and forth in her hands.
By simply turning the rods upside down, Stritter and other believers say dowsing can determine a person's gender and approximate age.
The family hopes this process will lead them to more discoveries about their missing ancestors.
"It seems to be working so we're going to do everything we can to identify," said Reid. "We may not know who but we know there are other graves up here and they may be our relatives."
Monroe's family also plans to bring in cadaver dogs to locate all the missing graves and then clean up the site back to its original state.
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