Fredericksburg Memorial Day Weekend Luminaria 2019

Photo by Michael Kleen

Sudden downpour interrupts reverential displays at Fredericksburg Civil War veteran cemeteries

On Saturday evening, May 25, Fredericksburg, Virginia, site of the 1862 Battle of Fredericksburg, held separate events to honor Civil War veterans at Fredericksburg City Cemetery and Fredericksburg National Cemetery. The first, honoring Confederate dead, was held from 6pm to 8pm, and the second, honoring Union dead, was held at 8pm. Unfortunately, an unexpected thunderstorm cut the second ceremony short.

The first event was organized by the Fredericksburg Ladies Memorial Association and attended by approximately 50 to 60 visitors. It featured a cemetery tour that stopped at notable grave sites led by local historian Dan “BigFrench” Janzegers.

The folk duo “Evergreen Shade” played traditional songs from the Civil War period.

Fredericksburg Memorial Day Weekend Luminaria

After lighting the candles, five members of the SCV Mathew Fontaine Maury Camp reenactment group fired three volleys in salute to the honored dead.

Fredericksburg Memorial Day Weekend Luminaria

SCV Mathew Fontaine Maury Camp musician Roy Perry played taps to conclude the ceremony. I rushed over to the Fredericksburg National Cemetery to catch the opening ceremonies at 8pm.

Dark storm clouds gathered overhead as a musical trio played across the street. The 24th annual Memorial Luminaria was organized by the National Park Service, Friends of Wilderness Battlefield, and the Boy Scouts of America. It featured an impressive 17,000 candle-lit bags to honor the more than 15,000 Union soldiers buried there.

Several hundred people turnout out, but unfortunately the steady stream of visitors ascending the hill turned around and headed back down shortly after the ceremony began. I felt so bad to see all that hard work get ruined by this freak thunderstorm. Everyone rushed back to their cars as the downpour hit. Hopefully the weather will cooperate better next year!

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Author: Michael Kleen

Michael Kleen is an author, raconteur, and occasional traveler. He has a M.A. in History and M.S. in Education. He enjoys studying military history, folklore, and philosophy.

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