Sunday, June 28, 2009

Finding John Jones' Grave

Number 6 on my list of genealogy goals for the year was to find and photograph the grave of John Jones, my great-grandfather. (John, Frank, Grace)

Mission accomplished.

I drove down to Leavenworth, Kansas, last Thursday. I had done my homework on the Internet and called to confirm that he was buried in Leavenworth National Cemetery, Section 18, Row 2, Site 1. Thanks to Google maps and their Street View, the cemetery was very easy to find.

I have to say I was so focused on finding the section he was in and finding the cemetery, I hadn't really given much thought to the rest of the cemetery. Driving into the cemetery and turning the first curve took my breath away. Row on row of identical white markers, each marking the final resting place of a man who had, whether volunteered or drafted, gone into danger willingly, to protect our Constitution and our freedoms.

The cemetery is located on 128 acres of rolling hills and holds about 33,395 graves. Graves in each section are lined up perfectly with all the others in the section. Some sections curved around with the road, grave markers not all facing east as is traditional. Some are on steep hillsides. I saw gravestones for veterans from most of our wars since 1865 when it was first opened, including World War 1, World War 2, Vietnam and the Gulf War.

Workers have been busy for some years, I would imagine, caring for the markers. Some have been there almost 150 years and dirt has filled in around them. Judging by the soil stain on some markers, they had at one time been buried to within 12 to 14 inches from the top. A section was marked off, and workers had toppled each marker over to a 45 degree angle and were creating a new resting place for the marker. It appeared that John's section had been done some time ago. A marker-shaped depression in the ground was still visible but the grass had completely filled in around it and the other markers.

John's grave is about 50 yards from the south fence of the cemetery. To the south is a hay field that had just been harvested. Round bails waited to be picked up. Robins, cardinals and mourning doves along with squirrels live in the trees of the cemetery and the trees to the south. The smell of fresh hay in the heat of a very hot day, the birds singing, the trees providing shade, the squirrel running across the grass made it a very peaceful setting.

A video:

Here are a few photos I took:

Leavenworth National Cemetery

Leavenworth National Cemetery

Leavenworth National Cemetery

Leavenworth National Cemetery

Leavenworth National Cemetery

In another post I will write what I know about John Jones so far. I also did some Ferguson research and I'll post that soon, also.

As I was gazing in awe at all the graves a poem came to mind. It was written by a soldier in World War I. More information is here.

In Flanders Fields
by John McCrae

In Flanders Fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

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