Memorial Day 2013

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader has just returned to the Villainschloss from a short outing to Culpeper, VA. On Saturday, the Wee Villain asked if we were doing anything special for Memorial Day. Mrs Villain and your Maximum Leader asked if he had anything special in mind when he asked. The Wee Villain then surprised both his parents by saying that we all should go to Culpeper and visit the grave of your Maximum Leader’s paternal grandparents.

You see, your Maximum Leader’s paternal grandfather, like so many of his generation, was a World War II vet. He was with the SeaBees in the Pacific during WWII. Your Maximum Leader doesn’t know much of this grandfather’s time during the war (whereas he knows much more about his maternal grandfather’s time during the war). He knows that he was a diver and set explosives in coral reefs. He blew up coral reefs to make holes for pilings that would support airfields or docks on small atolls during the island hopping across the Pacific towards Japan.

Your Maximum Leader didn’t have much of an opportunity to talk to his paternal grandfather about the war. His grandfather died in 1980 when your Maximum Leader was 10. The thought of asking about the war hadn’t occurred to your Maximum Leader by the time he was 10.

Your Maximum Leader was told, by his paternal grandmother, why his grandfather was buried in Culpeper - a place with which he had no connection prior to his death. Apparently, he received a letter in the 1970s from the Veteran’s Administration (VA) indicating that Arlington Cemetery was being closed as it was running out of space. If my grandfather wanted to be buried in Arlington he needed to fill out some forms to reserve a place. Before filling out the forms, my grandparents went around and looked at some other federal cemeteries in the region to see if another one might be an appealing place to spend eternity. The National Cemetery in Culpeper was that appealing place. The cemetery is not terribly large, and is dominated by a large hill. The top of the hill, and the southern slope of the hill, are filled with Union dead from the Civil War.

(NB to readers: As is the habit in the South, Confederate dead were buried in town cemeteries or in special cemeteries for Confederates only. Union dead were often left where they were until, under flag of truce, Union soldiers came to retrieve and/or bury their dead. Your Maximum Leader recalls that the Union dead after the Battle of Fredericksburg (Dec 1862) remained on the field until February 1863 - when Robert E. Lee wrote to Joseph Hooker and indicated that Hooker should send men to bury the dead of Fredericksburg. Thus, you have a proliferation of “Federal Cemeteries” in and near towns where battles were fought during the Civil War. Many of the Civil War dead in Culpeper fought & died in cavalry campaigns around Culpeper in 1862 & 1863.)

The north slope of the hill on which the National Cemetery in Culpeper is situated, was mostly empty when my grandparents visited. Just up the hill from the empty area where my grandparents would eventually be buried is a large monument erected by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania honoring her Civil War dead. Both my grandparents were Pennsylvanians, so it seemed appropriate that this would be their final resting place. So my grandparents returned the paperwork indicating that they would be buried in Culpeper.

Your Maximum Leader and his family took the 45 minute trip from Fredericksburg to Culpeper this morning and went to pay their respects to his grandparents and all the other citizen-soldiers buried there. While he was there, there was a small ceremony going on with some local politicians and officials speaking on a platform near the entrance to the cemetery. Your Maximum Leader didn’t linger for the ceremony, but did hear some of the remarks and some of the patriotic songs played by the band.

All in all it was a pleasant way to spend part of Memorial Day 2013.

Here is a picture looking up the hill towards the grave of your Maximum Leader’s grandparents. The trees beyond the brick wall obscure the Pennsylvania monument and the main flag pole.

National Cemetery at Culpeper

Carry on.

1 Comment »
Kevin Kim said:

Sounds like a nice day out. Hats off to the Wee Villain for suggesting such a trip.

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