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Local VFW post finds Confederate soldier’s headstone

Among the 4,243 in the Pioneer Cemetery in Rigby , a Confederate soldier would be the last grave many natives would expect to come across.

Members of Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1004 unveiled the restored grave site on Memorial Day.

“I guess the best thing we can say is that we stumbled across this one,” said post commander Dan Boomgaarden.

Hidden under an overgrown bush, Boomgaarden could barely make out the name of the solider who was buried there.

“We brushed everything aside and looked in there and we see Confederate States of America and that just really blew us away,” he said.

The grave belonged to William Waitsel Parks, a Confederate soldier who served in the 58th North Carolina Regiment from 1861 until the war ended in 1865.

In honor of his service, the VFW placed a replica of the first official national flag of the Confederacy, which included three horizontal bars of red and white, with a blue canton containing seven white stars. Boomgaarden said they wanted to honor the fact that he was a Confederate soldier, but felt the battle flag wasn’t appropriate.

“We put an American flag on every military grave within the county,” he said. “But we felt the battle flag was inappropriate because the war is over. It’s been over for over 150 years or better.”

But next to Park’s headstone, you will find a small Confederate battle flag placed by his family.

Boomgaarden said this is the oldest grave site that his post has restored, but he hopes to find others dating back to the French and Indian war. The VFW said their mission is to honor every soldier that they can, especially those who have passed on.

“We have a free country and a free nation and a red white and blue flag,” said Boomgaarden. “When you bring your arm to the square and you repeat the oath, you’re giving your life to your country.”

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