Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Going Home

Today was a poignant and remarkable day at Antietam National Cemetery.

This morning the remains of a young soldier, found last October in the Cornfield, were sent off in solemn ceremony, home at last. Almost exactly 147 years following the combat death of this young Union soldier his remains are bound for Saratoga National Cemetery in his home state of New York.

The ceremony at Antietam National Cemetery was marked by dignity, respect, and genuine affection. With professionalism, grace, and poise the National Park Service turned the remains over to representatives of the New York National Guard who will escort the young unknown soldier back to New York.

Six Park Rangers, my colleagues and friends, served as pall bearers on what was an incredibly beautiful late summer morning for this very moving event. (video here)

The pall-bearers, from a variety of divisions at the park are briefed at 8:15 a.m.

Crafted with great care and attention to detail by park staff, this elegantly simple box, beautifully lined and fashioned from a walnut tree from the Mumma Farm, contains the remains of the young unknown Union soldier.

As the hearse arrives a silence descends upon the gathering.

The pall bearers proceed to the hearse to receive the empty pine box, an exact replica of a soldiers casket of the Civil War.

The empty casket is carried to the cemetery lodge building where the box with the remains awaits.

The empty casket is followed by a member of the honor guard of the New York National Guard carrying the burial flag.
The doors closed for the transfer as two park volunteers in replica uniforms stood by.

The flag-draped coffin containing the walnut box with the soldier remains emerges from the lodge building...

as the Maryland State flag is dipped in salute.

Within moments, flag, coffin, and soldier left Antietam behind, bound for a long deferred journey home and a final rest in peace. The price of "America's Bloodiest Day" remains a very tangible thing for the people who work at Antietam National Battlefield. This event is one more reminder of the service and the sacrifice that are sometimes the price of freedom.

Today I felt very grateful to a young Union soldier, and very proud of the men and women I'm privileged to work with at Antietam National Battlefield.


Anonymous said...

Mannie, very nice video. Wish we could have been there but we had to get back home, doing so last night. Incredible that this boy was found after all these years. Just accentuates the importance of Antietam Battlefield Park, still speaking to us today of the horrors of that day in '62.
Paul and I went to the first walk at South Mountain yesterday, I was disappointed in the presentation(guess I am too used to Ed Bearrs).
The USSC et al had a great time, the newbies in our group roamed everywhere and took in the various talks at the Visitors Center. We all look forward to next year(God willing and the "crick" don't rise).
Take care.

Jim T.
watching from beautiful Orleans County, NY

Anonymous said...

Mannie thanks for sharing the pictures. A moving tribute to the young soldier.

J David Petruzzi said...

Thanks, Mannie - very moving video and ceremony. Wish I could have been there (should be coming this Saturday for a little R&R and early groundwork for "The Complete Antietam Guide" :)

Thanks for sharing. You're lucky indeed.


The Ebon Swan said...

Thank you for making this video, Mannie. It's just beautiful.

Chris Evans said...

Beautiful Video. Beautiful ceremony. Great choice of music in using 'Going Home'. I am reminded of the use of that song when FDR left Warm Springs, Georgia in 1945 and 'Going Home' was played as he was put on the train.

Jim Beeghley said...

As a follow up to your post, here is an article on his arrival in New York.



Bob Pollock said...


Thank you very much for sharing this. It is quite moving. We should all be grateful for the sacrifice of this young man and the thousands of others who gave the "last full measure of devotion." I share your sense of pride in the National Park Service.

Bob Pollock
U. S. Grant National Historic Site

Unknown said...


Sincere thanks for sharing the video. I can only say I had a lump in my throat and watery eyes.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for the beautiful video.

And thank you for your service in helping current generations remember the sacrifices the men made so many years ago.

I linked your video in my report.