Each year members of the 9th Pennsylvania Reserves re-enactment group, who have been restoring and replacing Civil War veterans’ headstones in Chartiers Cemetery, hold a ceremony to dedicate the placement of the newest stones they’ve finished. In 2011 I photographed the ceremony dedicating several stones. You can read more about the two Vietnam veterans, Marty and Joe, who are doing the work and two of the stones they’ve restored here.
Chartiers Cemetery is a public cemetery opened in 1863, and is the final resting place for people from all the nationalities and faiths of the many immigrants who came to call this town home, and that represents a good bit of the world and the faith traditions thereof. It also holds the remains of the veterans of all the conflicts this country has engaged in from the Civil War up to the present day’s conflicts.
When the Boy Scout troop places the flags on the veterans’ graves in preparation for Memorial Day I have always found the effect breathtaking, both beautiful and sad this small cemetery in this one small town has seen so many people offer their service in defense of this country.
It’s hard to share the effect with one photo, so I’ve made a slideshow of the photos from that day, and while many of the photos look the same I both stood in one place and photographed in a circle around me, and walked around the veteran’s section photographing from every edge. The slideshow ends with the bugler as he waits, and then plays Taps, and re-enactors and the priest as they travel around the cemetery to visit each of the stones. After the excitement of the crowd and all the speakers, the familiar melody of Taps filled the silence. I had always wanted to make a video of the images and include a recording of Taps but for now you can imagine as you look at the images.
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