Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorial Day in Culpeper

Today at Brandy Station: may 31, 2010

I attended the Memorial Day service at the Culpeper National Cemetery this morning. I have been to the site many, many times, but this was my first Memorial Day.

There were easily over 300 in attendance. I am not counting the Culpeper H.S. Band, the members of the various honor guards or the Cemetery staff. Over 300 who were compelled to honor the fallen. As a retired member of the U.S. Air Force, I was humbled to be counted among them

The cemetery was established in 1866 and originally laid out in a square form, with avenues dividing it into four equal sections. In the center, at the intersection of the avenue is a raised mound supporting a flag-staff.

The white picket fence has been replaced by brick, and unfortunately, the site has been expanded over the years.

Three Union officers who died in the fighting on June 9, 1863 are buried beneath the flag: Lt. Col Virgil Broerick of the 1st New Jersey Cavalry, Major John Shellmire of the 1st New Jersey and 1st Lieutenant Isaac Ward of the 6th United States Cavalry.

But what is as equally important to me are the over 250 Union soldiers who died between November 1863 and May 1864 from accidents and disease during the winter encampment. Many of these men were in the army for weeks, their first time in a camp.

We remember all who lost there lives, some were known and famous, most were not. Remember them. Remember them all.

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