Unknown Soldiers

This is the fourth time I have revamped this post.  I debated about not posting it at all.  It is not that it is a bad post and it shouldn’t be controversial.  Alas we all have those things.

While I was road tripping, I visited battlefields.  I’m a Civil War girl and battlefields are a must. This includes cemeteries.  I love old cemeteries, which is probably a weird thing to admit.  Still, they’re my thing. Cemeteries and battlefields kind of go hand in hand.  So when I stopped at the battlefield I disliked, I saw that it had a Confederate cemetery up the ways in which I came.  I did not hesitate to visit; especially, since I was going back that way anyhow. 

It ended up being an actual cemetery with historical markers. I could state my embarrassment for being none the wiser of this fact, but we all have our moments.  I made my way to the back of the cemetery.  I’m not sure how I knew I needed to head towards the back, but I did. I guess it just kind of seemed fitting. The older stones always get pushed towards the back in most cemeteries that grow to modern times.

When I arrived at the back. There they were. A double layer of headstones with the back layer all being lined with flags. American flags and Confederate flags alike.  Symbolism of those that respect those that fight and those that symbolize a Civil War buff holding tight for the respect of the Confederate part of the Civil War.   All this lining the fence that separated the cemetery from the rest of the city.

DSC_0820 (2)As I got out of my car there was a twinge in my heart. I’m not sure why this was. I had been to many of cemeteries for non-funeral reasons and I had not felt this before.  Maybe it was the fact that the heaviness was deep or something else.  It could also have been partly due to the sign that graced the beginning of this long line of headstones.

DSC_0774 (2)There were so many headstones. Some with names and so very many without.  So many markers just stating, “Unknown Soldier” to indicate the final resting place of someone who gave his life for a war that he may or may not have wanted to fight. 

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I snapped a few shots and just stood there taking it all in.  After a few minutes, a man in a red pickup stopped and I apologized for blocking the way even though I was as far as I could get (I thought maybe he was annoyed. Not all the cemetery traffic seemed to care that it was a cemetery nor seemed fond that it was also a tourist spot).  He just waved it off, that was not his concerned.  He asked if I had relatives buried in this row.  I didn’t know.

Besides the fact that there were so many unknown soldiers, it is family history and that is not something we talk about in my family.  I would not be surprised if there were in fact those that donned Confederate grey in my history line.  Who knows what all the family tree contains on my mother’s side.  It is also likely that I had slave ancestors on my father’s side. Another side of the family tree I will never know.  I could say that I might even have Union Blue somewhere amongst them all, but truth be told…knowing what I do know…well, let’s just say that’s a story for another day.  Anyway, my point is there is no telling what lingers from the limbs that make up my genealogy.

I explained that I simply had an appreciation and was into the Civil War.  He thanked me for having an appreciation for them….even if they did lose.  He also proceeded to tell me how his grandfather had fought in the Civil War and was buried off yonder in another portion of the cemetery not too far away.  I believe he said his grandfather was a general. I’ll let you decide which side.  I will say that I was in the south and that rebel red and blue was flying high.  Back to point….I love meeting strangers like this and hearing the stories they have to offer.  We exchanged a few more pleasantries and then he went on his way. 

DSC_0787 (2)After he left I stood there a little bit longer. Just taking it in.  My heart was growing heavier and I was finding it hard to drag myself away.  When I finally did, I continued to think about these stones.  These soldiers.  So many unknown. So many forgotten.  Other things went through my head mind as well.

I’m no fool. I know had this war ended differently that my life would be different or non-existent.  I think the ultimate outcome was inevitable, but we will never know. It happened the way that it happened and different circumstances have vastly different outcomes.  Still, these were soldiers with families that knew nothing more than their loved ones never came back from the war. Not even just from the Civil War.  All the wars that plague our history (and present).  So many reasons for a heavy heart.  May all the fallen rest in peace. Today and yesterday.

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Montana Rose Photography

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7 thoughts on “Unknown Soldiers

  1. I’m going to say a couple things. First, the easy one. Older graves are at the back of the cemetery because that was where the original cemetery was started. As cemeteries grow, the new graves are located to the front of the older ones. At least in most national sites.

    You know that I live in New Orleans. Even today, events are divided by pre and post “woah.” The Civil War. Old line former blue blood families truly hate Lincoln and you know why. We do not celebrate Presidents Day. The reason why is buried in the excuse of Mardi Gras celebrations, for which many people take an entire week. Every old cemetery has Confederate graves. This was, and always will be a Confederate city… at least until the last of the great-grandchildren of Civil War era families die off. The military cemetery at Chalmette is located within about ten steps from the field where Battle of New Orleans was fought in 1814. About half the cemetery is filled with CSA graves. Many are unknown.

    It is what it is, and it is part of our national history. Musician Bob Dylan, who btw turned 74 years old today, is a serious student of history. He reads the newspapers of the time, rather than history books. His view is simple. If it didn’t take a war and an executive declaration to free the slaves, we would not have the issues we have today. He may be right. There is a lot of resentment still, especially in the south.

    About the Confederate flag. The Stars and Bars. Hmmm, it was created during battle because the original CSA flag looked too much like the USA flag. To the brave soldiers fighting on both sides it did not mean what it does today. When I see the Stars and Bars flying near a CSA grave, I honor it. When I see it on the back of some jacked up pickup truck, I think “what an idiot.” Maybe that’ll help you.

    Yeah. I like the Civil War, history and cemeteries too. 🙂

    On some trip, think about driving from about Memphis down this way, on Highway 61. Besides that being the Blues Highway, there are more Civil War sites than you can imagine.

    Don’t be afraid to write what’s in your heart. If it’s sincere, who cares if it’s controversial?

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    • I believe that you are right, Mr. Ray. There is still a lot of resentment today. I’ve often wonder how things would be had it played out differently. Had it not been a war. Though, again….it happened the way that it happened and sadly we will never know if things could have been differently. Though, I am also not necessarily sure it would eliminate the problem we have today for the same things that we see on television. I’m not sure those views would be gone as where there is a lot of resentment …there is a lot of chips and that is learned as well.

      As far as the flag. It is funny you mention that. I actually have nice shot of the flag that was in the cemetery. I posted it but then I just had bad visions of some people taking offense because they did not take away the actual meaning of the post. I hope that sounds the way that i intend for it too. I respect it and honor it; especially when representing a grave. Then again, I also view it in its original intention and not the representation that it has come to in today’s world. As far as though that have it on their trucks…this is an area I’m torn on. I am all about standing for what you believe in and representing the way you intend. On the other hand…controversy and I can see how it is seen as a smack in the face. It is one of those things that the line is thin. I grew up in Oklahoma so I guess I just consider that normal behavior. I mean I know it is no stranger to Louisiana either, but I guess that is something that has just never grown to phase me.

      I will definitely have to keep Memphis in mind. I am trying to plan another trip in a few months so this will be added to my options list. Thank you for that input. I also thank you for taking the time to comment. It did ease my mind and you gave me a lot of insight. Some things I knew and some things I did not. I also know you are right about the being sincere and controversy point. Thank you again.

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      • I also wish there was a way for me to edit my comments. So please excuse the grammatical errors. Trying to read it in the little box that came up and seeing it in its entirety definitely makes me a cringe a bit. There is one part that says “though” instead of “those”

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      • For the most part I agree, but I think we do know how it could have turned out. Not the war, but what came after. We know from a more personal standpoint. Think about this. If I was in such a position to have control over you and made you do something, you’d do it. But, you might not like it. If I sold you on that very same idea and you did it willing, you probably do it better and be happy about it. Now expand it. Ending slavery by force broke the economic back of the south. That’s fine. People should never own other people. But, huge money was lost with the stroke of a pen. And, it was lost in a part of the country where work was all hand labor, done manually. We also know that Lincoln was planning to rebuild the south and offer his hand in friendship. That would have made the transition easier. That never happened after his assassination.

        Keep in mind, I may live in Louisiana but I’m not from here. I was born in Brooklyn. I was raised in Los Angeles. I don’t see things from a purely souther perspective so when I see stars and bars on a truck or other place it sort of shocks me.

        You’re welcome. Thank you too.

        Liked by 1 person

      • A very valid point and I would be inclined to agree. We are more accepting when it is by choice and not force. I can also see why this action of donning the rebel red and blue so lightly would be a bit of a shock to you.

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  2. Wow! This is 1 of the best & most favourite blogs i have ever had the pleasure to read 😊 im from the uk so to read this is just so heart warming yet sad in a lot of ways too. Mainly because of the unknown soldiers. Beautiful photos & fantastic blog. Loved reading it Montana as im sure many other people will too. Just brilliant.

    Liked by 1 person

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