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New Civil War Memorial Honors African American Vets

Titled, "Reunion and Remembrance," Hagerstown's Civil War veterans event aimed to honor the millions of soldiers who fought on American soil 150 years ago.

HAGERSTOWN, Md.— Titled, "Reunion and Remembrance," Hagerstown’s Civil War veterans event aimed to honor the millions of soldiers who fought on American soil 150 years ago.

The ceremony was held at Rose Hill Cemetery Saturday, where thousands of Civil War veterans, both Union and Confederate, were laid to rest.

"It’s important that we recognize it was Native Americans, and African Americans, and white Americans that all participated in this war," said event organizer Thomas Riford.

Until this month, the cemetery did not have a memorial dedicated to the African American soldiers of the Civil War.

"So many people participated in the Civil War who were from here or who ended up here after the Civil War,” said Riford. “To finally have a monument dedicated to the memory of African American Civil War veterans is itself significant in our history."

The remembrance featured the unveiling of the new Lyon Post #31 memorial for African American Civil War veterans. In addition, there was a re-dedication of the Washington Confederate Cemetery, a memorial for white Civil War veterans, and the honoring of a renovated grave marker belonging to Jacob Wheaton, who was believed to be the first African American to vote in Maryland after the Civil War.

Lieutenant Governor Anthony Brown spoke at the ceremony, and many audience members traveled to Hagerstown to watch the event.

"I…had an ancestor who was in the Civil War," said event participant Fred Clark of Hanover, Pennsylvania. "All of the veterans should be remembered."

The new memorial at Rose Hill Cemetery was placed after about a year and a half of planning, and it was funded privately through donations.

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