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Old 08-11-2002, 07:32 AM
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Tamaroa Tamaroa is offline
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Default Honoring Veterans of all Wars

There has been some discussion on this board regarding current veteran issues. all the discussions are valid and quite necessary in order to insure that veterans of all classifications be they combat wounded, service connected disabilities or just plain veterans are properly taken care of in their twilight years. But, what about after they are gone?

A project I have been working on for about 6 years now is trying to get not just veterans but people in my county interested in preserving the final resting places of veterans. It took a lot of years but I finally catagorized and located 725 graves of Union soldiers and 5 Confederate soldiers. I have photographed them all and myself and another fellow veteran recently repaired one headstone. I personally had an unmarked grave marked as well.

I found a number of veterans without any reference on their plot to their service. In those cases we order the appropriate bronze grave marker identifying the war in which he fought.

Some of the cemeteries are abandoned (those without an internment for 100 years). We search for the owner of the land and permission to get to the cemetery. Some are really quite difficult to get to by the way. Obviously the more recent headstones from the first world war to the present are in pretty good shape, however, going back from the Span-am war there are many that require maintenance.

Below is a newspaper article that I wrote back in the summer of 1999. It was published in the Rockland County Times. Please read it and see if there is anything you can do to help preserve the memory of those who have gone before us.

================
Ramblin' Round Rockland
County Memorial Markers, Shattered and Worn

?Charge it is? replied Major Edward Pye of Haverstraw to a suggestion by Rufus Dawes of the 6th Wisconsin. With that answer, the 95th New York Volunteers were to go down in history along with the 6th Wisconsin and 84th New York as the three Union regiments that attacked Davis? Mississippi Brigade in the unfinished railroad cut at Gettysburg on July 1, 1863. This audacious act bought more time for the battered Union forces as they desperately hung on during the first day of the battle waiting for re-enforcements for their outnumbered army.

Fast-forward one hundred and thirty-six years to a quiet section of Oak Hill Cemetery. There stands a battered red sandstone marker with its entire inscription completely eroded, lost for all time. It is the marker for Edward Pye, one time lawyer and judge in Haverstraw who put everything aside and volunteered to aid his country in time of need. He was an able officer revered by his men and the town from which he came. Throughout the war, there are constant references to him in the Rockland County Messenger indicating the depths of feelings toward this lawyer turned citizen soldier. There were even editorials in the local paper urging him to resign his commission and run for office.

It is a shame that a man so esteemed, so revered in his time leaves no physical evidence behind of his existence. There was an Edward Pye G.A.R. Post established in his memory after the war. In fact it is that Post flag that is one of the two flags the county is attempting to preserve for future generations of Rocklanders. Misses Demarest and Vervalen were responsible for raising the money for the flags. When presented with the banners, Pye was overcome with emotion. ?He pledged the company to defend it and either bring it back with them or leave their poor carcasses with it in the battle.?

Another grave at Oak Hill is that of Jeremiah Springsteen. He became the 95th regiment?s first casualty while in the field on August 8th, 1862 as a result of typhoid fever. Private Springsteen is buried in the G.A.R. plot of Oakhill Cemetery in Nyack. His stone is also a little worse for the wear as are several others in the plot. In fact, as you wander from Civil War grave to Civil War grave throughout the county, one thing is prevalent. That is the worsening condition of our veteran?s Civil War era graves.

Go to Mount Repose if you will. Private John Haring?s (6th New York Heavy Artillery) epitaph is no longer visible. The memorial stone to Private William G. Smith killed in action at Gettysburg is wearing away to nothing. Go to Tallman Cemetery just off Route 59. You will see Sergeant John Sheridan?s head stone snapped in half, the top half laying in the grass face up. Check out Greenbush Presbyterian Church Cemetery and try to find the 127th regiment?s Thomas Welsh?s stone, he was mortally wounded in action at Deveaux?s Neck in South Carolina, December 8, 1864: five short months before the war was over.

Better yet, try to get to the old Waldron burial ground in Grassy Point about half way between West Haverstraw and Stony Point. It is overgrown with brambles and brush, trees toppled over the stones. There are two Civil War veterans buried there, both Babcocks. A hurricane fence prevents you from going back there to survey the remains of the cemetery.

The one situation that probably grates most on our nerves is the fact that the Palisades Center Mall decided to build around rather than stay away from altogether, Mount Moor Cemetery in West Nyack. Mount Moor is the final resting-place for many Black Civil War veterans. Sure the Mall neatened up the cemetery and placed a nice wrought iron fence around it. But the fact remains, cars rumble over it and around it hourly with nary a person giving it a thought. Yet in the cemetery you have veterans of the 54th Massachusetts, 14th Rhode Island Heavy Artillery, 10th U.S. Colored Troops and the 26th U.S. Colored troops. Progress went too far on this one.

If you, the reader, only knew how many of our veteran?s graves were neglected! You would be astonished at the apparent indifference toward their upkeep. Just to get an idea of the daunting task ahead regarding some of these old cemeteries, please go the Rockland Room in the New City Library. Ask to see the 1936 Survey of Abandoned Cemeteries by the Rockland County Planning Board. Just spend a few minutes browsing through it. You will get an idea of the task that lies ahead to make sure the stones are restored for future generations.

An answer to this dilemma would be to form clubs who adopt and care for our local cemeteries. This is not as romantic nor does it have the allure of say a Gettysburg or Antietam battlefield monument adoption. However, these veterans are buried in ground, which should be considered just as hallowed as a battlefield. If you are in a VFW or American Legion post, why not suggest the adoption and care of a cemetery as part of your club?s obligations?

A cemetery adoption program would also make an excellent project for the Boy Scout?s Eagle award as well as the Girl Scout?s Gold award. For the scouting awards, we would be most happy to serve as advisors. Make no bones about it. It has to be done! Moreover at the outset we are not talking about a big investment. Roger and I purchased boxes of grave marker US flags. They sit in our cars awaiting their next assignment. As we visit cemeteries, we place a flag on a hither-to-neglected grave, spruce up the area, jot down the information and move on.

We have begun to catalogue all Civil War graves in the county. Photographs are being taken as well to determine which stones are candidates for replacement. After we have a list drawn up we will seek to have them replaced. However in order to do this we need your help. Are you the descendant of a Civil War veteran whose grave is either unmarked or marked with a shattered or worn stone? If you are, please send all the information required for the headstone to us. We will review it and assist you in replacing the stone.

Marble was the predominant stone used for markers in the nineteenth century. It was easy to carve. Being easy to carve, however, means that it is subject to erosion wind and rain. We have seen some stones with holes worn completely through from one side to the other. As technology developed, so did the ease of carving hard stone, hence granite is the best choice for a stone that will endure. Consequently, stones we have ordered replaced thus far are carved in granite. Hopefully, they will be around a little longer for the county to honor as required.

In fact, let?s go a step further. If the headstone or unmarked grave is Revolutionary War through the Spanish American War, we will help out. So far, from the First World War to the present the stones appear to be in good condition, they are not a priority. But we do need your help Mr., Mrs. Ms. J. Q. Public! There are a lot of plots out there. We cannot get to all of them in a reasonable amount of time. As you take your morning constitutionals check out the local cemetery. Help us help preserve their memory. Remember Pye?s words at Gettysburg; ?Charge it is!? Well, we as concerned citizens must charge ahead, as well to make sure that progress does not suffocate preservation.
================
Please folks, its a great way to help people understand the sacrifices our veterans have made. The next time you walk through a cemetery, check out the condition of the headstones. If one is in need of replacement, acquire form 14-1330 from the V.A. and fill it out. within 70 days a new headstone will be sent to the cemetery, you have to pay for setting the stone (45.00 here).

By the way, if you do decide to start a project like this be very careful about your clothing, long pants, long sleeve shirts, high boots, etc. and plenty of tick repellent. My passion for this was rewarded by a severe case of Lyme Disease because Rockland has become overrun with it. I don't know about the rest of the country but be careful.

Thanks for reading this,

Bill
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Old 08-11-2002, 10:05 AM
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David David is offline
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Thank you for your work on this Tamaroa. It is good to know there are others who care enough to preserve and honor our countries military heritage
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Old 08-11-2002, 10:22 AM
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Default Veterans Square Deal

The expectation of a promise for defending your country, is not unreasonable.
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Old 08-11-2002, 08:01 PM
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Tamaroa Tamaroa is offline
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Here's another one very appropriate.

Bill
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