The Dead

I have a weird confession this morning. I love cemeteries. I love to walk around in them, look at the headstones, read the dates, and think about what those people might have been like.

Yesterday, we were blessed to be able to visit Shiloh National Battlefield. If you’ve never been, you need to go. It is the place of one of the largest engagements of the Civil War in the Mississippi Valley which happened over only 2 days. We drove the miles and miles of the tour seeing all the battle sights. As we drove, I couldn’t help think about all the men who died there. There are other things to see, but one thing I liked was to walk through the cemetery. It holds 3,584 graves of Civil War dead, 2,359 of them unknown. In 1866 some of the dead were moved from 156 locations on the battlefield and 565 from along the Tennessee River and relocated in the National Cemetery.

As we walked through the cemetery, we noticed something I have never seen before. Some markers had coins on them, mostly pennies. We googled what this meant. Leaving a penny on a grave means you were there to pay your respects. Leaving a nickel means you and the deceased trained together in boot camp. Leaving a dime means you served with them in some capacity. Leaving a quarter means you were with them when they died.

What an interesting thing! We left a penny on one of the graves. There were many unknown soldiers. How sad that their families never knew where they ended up, but how wonderful that they are being honored by having been buried at this location.

Next time I am at my dad’s grave, I’m leaving a quarter.

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