Arlington National Cemetery Removing Mementos Left at Graves

Military cemeteries traditionally have a uniform look: clean, unadorned, orderly.

photo of Flanders Fields American Cemetery and Memorial

Credit: Flanders Fields American Cemetery and Memorial

The appearance of the military crosses was immortalized in the lines of the poem “In Flanders Fields,” written by Canadian John McCrae during WWI on 3 May 1915:

In Flanders fields the poppies grow
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.

Now, a century later, there has been a growing trend by families and friends to decorate military gravestones of their loved ones in Arlington National Cemetery, Virginia. Military authorities are reminding families that this decorating is not allowed. Photographs and mementos left at the gravesites have been removed, and the historical landmark cemetery has returned to its traditional appearance—with silent rows of gleaming white crosses.

A London newspaper ran a story on this clean-up project at Arlington National Cemetery last month.

article about Arlington National Cemetery removing mementos left at gravesites,  Daily Mail newspaper article 10 October 2013

Credit: Daily Mail (London, United Kingdom), 10 October 2013

Read the entire news story from the Daily Mail (London, United Kingdom), 10 October 2013, here: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2451626/Arlington-graves-stripped-personal-momentoes-controversial-clean-up.html

Here is a copy of McCrae’s handwritten poem.

photo of the handwritten original copy of John McCrae's poem “In Flanders Fields”

Credit: Wikipedia

Lt. Colonel McCrae died 28 January 1918 while serving in France during WWI. He is buried in Wimereux Military Cemetery in northern France.

photo of the tombstone of Lt. Colonel John McCrae

Credit: Wikipedia

Here is the complete text of the poem “In Flanders Fields.”

In Flanders fields the poppies grow

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.

Harrybelle (Durant) Stark: The Last Casualty of WWI

Harrybelle (Durant) Stark (1891-1937) gave the last full measure of devotion to our country. She was the last casualty of World War I.

Born March 1891 in Pensacola, Florida, she was the daughter of Osmond P. (1856-1913) and Annette (Knowles) (1880- ) Durant.

photo of Harrybelle Stark

Credit: Stark family photograph

Harrybelle attended Saint Vincent’s Hospital School of Nursing in Birmingham, Alabama, and graduated as a nurse in the Class of 1911.

She enlisted in the U.S. Army Nurse Corps 24 August 1916, and was commissioned a lieutenant and sent overseas to serve at Evacuation Hospital No. 6, American Expeditionary Force, based in Souilly, France. It was there that she met and married her husband, Lt. George Frederick Stark (1895-1958), an Army aviator.

photo of Harrybelle Stark

Credit: Stark family photograph

WWI ended for the rest of the world on 11 November 1918—but for Harrybelle it would not end for another 19 years, until 16 April 1937.

Near the end of WWI her base was gassed by the Germans. In spite of the damaging effects of the gas she continued to serve and was discharged from the Army on 25 April 1919.

photo of a Purple Heart medal

Credit: Wikipedia

But the deteriorating effects of the gas were too much and she soon entered the Castle Point Veteran’s Hospital (Castle Point, New York) where she remained until her death

photo fo the Castle Point Veteran’s Hospital (Castle Point, New York)

Credit: VA Hudson Valley Health Care

As the last casualty of WWI she was buried 21 April 1937 at Arlington National Cemetery with full military honors.

photo of Harrybelle Stark

Credit: Stark family photograph

Arlington National Cemetery Puts Tombstone Photos Online

Arlington National Cemetery has recently completed a massive effort to photograph all 400,000 tombstones and put the photos online.

photo of the front of Harrybelle Stark's tombstone

Credit: Arlington National Cemetery

This is a terrific genealogical resource. Genealogists can easily search for their deceased relatives and the website will display the gravestone and show you where on the cemetery map the person is buried.

Arlington National Cemetery. Search burials here:

http://public.mapper.army.mil/ANC/ANCWeb/PublicWMV/ancWeb.html

map of Arlington National Cemetery

Credit: Arlington National Cemetery

With a click you can pull up more details of the person’s military service and a close-up photograph of the front and back of the tombstone.

When you click on “Details,” it pulls up the accompanying tombstone photos with both a front and rear view. Notice the handy “Download Photo” button under each photograph. It’s a snap to download and keep these photos to add to your family collectibles.

photos of the front and back of Harrybelle Stark's tombstone

Credit: Arlington National Cemetery

This comprehensive effort by the Arlington National Cemetery is one of the best genealogy websites online today.

Frank Baum 1856-1919 – Going Beyond the Obits

Lyman Frank Baum, the author of the many books about the Wonderful Wizard of Oz, was born today – May 15, 1856 – in Chittenango, Madison County, New York.


When he died obituaries appeared in newspapers around the country like this obituary that appeared in the Duluth (MN) News Tribune (8 May 1919).

It was written from the perspective of his sister-in-law Helen Leslie Gage (1845-1933) who lived at the time in Duluth.

Over the years there were many articles about L. Frank Baum in the newspapers.

Less well known is that late in his life he began to serialize his books and short stories in newspapers across the country under the title the Wonderful Stories of Oz.

Here is an ad for this series that appeared in the Salt Lake (UT) Telegram (7 January 1919).

Remember that GenealogyBank goes beyond the obituaries and gives you the complete issues of the historical newspapers. That means you may search every article and every advertisement that appeared in the paper. A real gold mine of information about our ancestors.

Give it a try right now and see what you can find about your ancestors. Click here.

Private William Christman – first burial in Arlington Cemetery May 13, 1864

The first burial on the grounds of what would become Arlington National Cemetery was on May 13, 1864.

Private William Christman was buried in the rose garden in front of General Robert E. Lee’s home in Arlington, Virginia. He was serving with Company G, 67th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry. Click here to see his headstone.

In May 1863 Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton ordered the creation of the “Freedman’s Village for the protection of the Black man and his family, upon the Arlington estate, belonging to the Rebel General Lee.” The Liberator, 15 July 1864.

June 15, 1864 Secretary Stanton ordered that the grounds around the Lee home be used as a military cemetery – which would soon be known around the world as Arlington National Cemetery.

The newspapers of the day loved it that the Lee home and grounds were used to house and give the freedmen a new start and a military cemetery to honor the nation’s war dead.

“How appropriate that Lee’s lands should be dedicated to two such noble purposes – the free living Black man whom Lee would enslave and the bodies of the dead soldiers who Lee has killed in a wicked cause. Let this record stand to the everlasting credit of Secretary Stanton.”
The Liberator, 15 July 1864.

In GenealogyBank you may read many more articles about the creation of Arlington National Cemetery and the Freedman’s Village. Look for them in the Historical Newspapers and in the Historical Documents which includes the US Serial Set – where there are also numerous government reports detailing the progress of both operations.