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The 144th Memorial Day of Veterans at Pioneers and Soldier’s Cemetery

Photos & story By Harvey Winje

On May 28, 2012, Americans across the world honored the women and men who have served in the military.  It is a tradition that goes back to 1868 when General Logan issued his General Order #11 which set aside one day a year for remembrance of veterans.

At Minneapolis Pioneers and Soldiers Memorial Cemetery, we have other reasons to be grateful to the veterans and their families and friends.  They are the people who, more than any others, are the reason that the cemetery exists today.

After the City Council voted to close the cemetery to future burials in 1919, the remains of approximately 6,000 to 7,000 people, including many veterans, were moved to other cemeteries.  But there were some families who refused to have their loved ones moved, and families of veterans were among the most vocal in their opposition.

On a beautiful May morning the Minnesota Chapter of the U.S. Daughters of 1812 led the honoring of all veterans of the War of 1812 with specific tributes to Walter Carpenter and John Carpenter, brothers, who served in the War of 1812 and acknowledging the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812.  The Daughters of the War of 1812 honored the lives of these two brothers.  They placed a new veteran’s tombstone on the grave of Walter Carpenter.  A military, legal technicality prevents John Walker’s gravesite from being marked by a Federal Veterans tombstone because he was a member of the State Militia.

The traditional Memorial Day observance began informally as patriotic band music sounded throughout the cemetery by the Seward Concert Band.  Veteran Emcee Gary Martin called the assembly to order officially welcoming the crowd and announcing the presentation of Colors by the JROTC from Minnesota Transitions School, singing of “Stars Spangled Banner” led by Nancy, the Pledge of Allegiance, and introducing the Rev. Becky Sechrist from Good Samaritan United Methodist Church to give the Invocation.  The 144th in the cemetery’s history, took place facing the flag pole in front of the Caretaker’s cottage.

General Logan’s Orders were read by Cadet Staff Sergeant Steve Storm of JROTC of MTS.  An inspiring address heralding those who have served our country as military service personnel was given by 1st Sergeant Steven Chapman, a 20 year veteran, retired and now serving as a JROTC officer.

The singing of “God Bless America” preceded the recitation of the Gettysburg Address by Cadet Captain Calvin Fackler, JROTC of MTS and was followed by a medley of songs by the Seward Concert Band ending with the audience joining in singing “America the Beautiful before Rev. Sechrist gave an uplifting send-off with a benediction.

Customarily the audience and all participants walked to the plot of the Grand Army of the Republic for the placing of several wreaths, three traditional rifle shots by the Firing Team and playing of Taps by members of the band very uniquely with the echo herd in the distance.

 

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