For any number of reasons, I've always felt a special connection to United States National Cemeteries. Usually referred to as "Military Cemeteries," these green spaces are the final resting places of millions of American veterans and their spouses. This is a brief photo tour of the one located in New Albany, Indiana.
|Aerial view, "courtesy" of Bing maps.|
|These signs always get me. The irony is painful.|
|Plaque from the New Albany Historical Society. They say it best.|
|The cemetery's rostrum, an outdoor speaking platform for commemorations. All of the National Cemeteries that I have been to have one of these. The one in New Albany is better than most, honestly. Note the row of headstones in front of it....|
|This is one of the stones located in front of the Rostrum, that of Col. Paul Johns, missing in action in Laos.|
Paul Frederick Johns went missing in 1968 over Laos when his A-1H Skyraider plane was shot down. While the US is very dedicated to recovering the remains of the fallen, sometimes these efforts fail. Over 83,000 servicemembers are still missing from the "modern" US wars, World War Two to the present. JPAC, the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command is tasked with carrying our searches for those still unaccounted for, and their efforts have brought closure for hundreds of families.
For more information on Col. Johns, click here. Hopefully he comes home soon.
|Mass grave of an aircrew shot down in World War Two.|
|The grave of Edmond Webb, of the "United States Colored Troops," a segregated branch of the Union Army. The marble has worn away heavily over the years. The VA makes an effort to replaces heavily eroded stones, as seen below.|
|The replacement stone of Andrew McNary, still noting his position in the segregated army of the time.|
|Two civil war graves, showing the home state of each man.|
Units were largely composed of men from a single state or area, and a truly devastating battle could have the unintended effect of killing most of the young men of a city or county. Perhaps the clearest example of this was the "University Grays," 135 men who enlisted from the University of Mississippi who enlisted together at the start of the war, nearly the entire school. During Pickett's Charge at the Battle of Gettysburg, the unit suffered almost 100% casualties, destroying a generation men in the process.
|One of two large coastal guns, placed upright in the cemetery. They appeared to be plugged with cannonballs.|
|Cannon plaque, with (dated) information about the cemetery.|
|The current conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan are represented in the cemetery as well. Spc. Wilcox was one of three men from the Minnesota National Guard killed when their outpost was hit by a rocket attack. He was 27 years old.|
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