Ceremonies recognizing 65 Civil War soldiers buried in Berea Cemetery will be conducted at 6 p.m. on Saturday, May 29th. The cemetery is located at 500 Oak Grove Court, off U.S. Hwy 1016. The public is invited to attend.
Following a tradition established in 1892, the Memorial Day program will include speakers relating the history of the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR), the Women’s Relief Corps and Roll Call of the 65 soldiers whose final resting place is the Berea Cemetery. Along with a rifle volley and flag ceremony, a brass band ensemble will render Taps and Civil War music. Three interpretive markers include the names of the 65 veterans, and images of GAR and WRC members will be dedicated, as well as a headstone for Pvt. Horace Yates, a serviceman with the U.S. Colored Troops. Many descendants have been invited to join the event “in memory of the soldiers dead.”
The Grand Army of the Republic was a fraternal organization founded in 1866 and was composed of veterans of the Union Army, Navy and Marines who served in the Civil War. The GAR linked veterans through their shared war experiences and was one of the first organizations to support voting rights for black veterans, promote patriotic education, help establish Memorial Day a national holiday, lobby to establish regular veterans’ pensions and to support Republican political candidates. Its peak membership, at 410,000, was in 1890, a high point of various Civil War commemorative and monument dedication ceremonies. The GAR was succeeded by the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War. Madison County was also home to three additional GAR posts: O.P. Johnson Post #18 at Round Hill, T. D. Sedgewick Post #130 in Richmond, and Marion Murphy #161 in Kirksville.
The Women’s Relief Corps Auxiliary #48 was composed of wives, daughters and widows of these veterans and provided benevolent care for the veterans and their families. Many descendants of these veterans still live in the vicinity.
The three interpretive markers were funded by private donations with additional resources contributed by the following organizations: African American Veterans of Madison County, African American Genealogy Group of KY, Battle of Richmond, Berea Cemetery; Berea College, Madison County Historical Society, Sgt. Elijah P. Marrs Camp No. 5, Sons of the Union Veterans of the Civil War.
It is suggested that attendees bring lawn chairs. COVID 19 guidelines regarding masks and social distancing will be observed. The gathering is open to the public without charge.