Sunday, May 27, 2012

Fredericksburg National Cemetery Luminaria

The National Cemetery in Fredericksburg is located on Marye's Heights, which is a high point of ground that was the scene of a terrible massacre of Union troops during the 1862 Battle of Fredericksburg.  After the war, the US government created National Cemeteries to bury and honor the fallen (Union soldiers at that time only, of course).  Approximately 15,300 men are buried in this cemetery ... having been reinturred there from various locations around Fredericksburg.  Over 13,000 of them are unidentified.

Every Memorial Day weekend since 1995, on Saturday night, the local Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts place 15,300 luminaries throughout the cemetery (one candle per burial), and guides are stationed throughout the cemetery to tell stories of some of the men who are buried there.

Most of the graves of the unknown contain more than one soldier.  Two candles are placed on each grave, with others along the paths, to make up the Luminaria's 15,300 candles.



The hill which contains the cemetery is terraced, with burials on each level.  We arrived at dusk.



As we reached the top of the hill, we saw an overwhelming panorama of candles.  To experience the full effect of this scene, we would have to wait a bit for the sun to set and the sky to darken.



There were scouts assigned to relight any candles that went out.



As the sun set, the sea of candles created an incredible moving scene.





Every 30 minutes, a bugler on top of the hill played 'Taps'.  These two older men were standing with their hands over their hearts.



As an Army brat, scenes like this always make me cry.  Though these men lived and died so long ago, I can't help but think about how each of them was someone's husband, or son, or brother.



As darkness fell, the hub-bub of visitors and guides faded into the night.  All we noticed were the candles ... which is as it should be.




16 comments:

  1. This is so touching and thank you for sharing the story and pictures.
    Lisa

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  2. Too lovely and breathtaking for words. Thank you for sharing these wonderful photos with us today. :-)

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  3. What a beautiful tribute. Thanks for posting these photos for all of us to see.

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  4. Thanks for sharing, I didnt get to go this year...

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  5. Very touching, thank you very much for sharing. What a great memorial!

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  6. Oh- Doesn't that just put tears in you eyes when you think of all the families that have been touched by every single light that is lit there? Blessings-xo Diana

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  7. Beautiful Connie. We were actually going to try to make it, but I've come down with some kind of stomach flu :-( Hopefully we'll see it next year.

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  8. Wow! That's what I call a wonderfully touching memorial.

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  9. What a wonderful way to remember.

    Yesterday I visited one of my favorite memorials here in Norfolk. On the harborfront are bronze copies of letters written by soldiers who died in each American war. The bronze letters are curled and scattered randomly inside a plaza, like so many pieces of paper blowing in the wind.

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  10. What an incredible sight! I can't think of a better way to honor those that have served. I'm so glad you shared these photos. Thank you!

    Cindy at Rosehaven Cottage

    P.S. And thank you so much for the very kind words you left on my blog. They mean more than you know. Your comment came exactly when I needed it today.

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  11. Connie, I am so glad you shared this. It made me cry, too.

    I just finished reading a book that I will remember forever, and it made me cry all the way through and even since I finished. You might like it, too. The title is Wench.

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  12. Very, very touching. It doesn't matter how long ago, my heart is always sad at the losses that take place and the sacrifices that were made for us and I say thank you.

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