Friday, March 29, 2013

"Remembering Gettysburg" at Mount Moriah Cemetery, Park Day 2013

Last year (2012), I believe I blogged about Park Day at Mount Moriah Cemetery after the fact. This year, I’m giving you fair warning. Saturday April 6, 2013 will be the big day, so please plan to help out at the cemetery if you can! No pain, no gain! (And hopefully, no rain; if there is, the date will move to April 13.)

The Civil War Trust (a non-profit organization), The History Channel, and the National Park Service together sponsor this annual, nationwide event. Its purpose is to provide a hands-on volunteer opportunity to help preserve Civil War battlefields and related historic sites. Mount Moriah falls into the latter category in that many Civil War veterans are buried here, in the Civil War Soldiers’ Plot and the Naval Asylum Plot. (The term ‘asylum,’ by the way, is an old term for ‘hospital.’)

Purchase a "Gatehouse T-shirt" here!

Registration for the event begins at 8:00 a.m. Saturday, April 6, 2013, at the cemetery main gate, 6201 Kingsessing Avenue (Click link for map). This is just down the block from the old brownstone, incredibly photogenic gatehouse (shown above). (The gatehouse, by the way, was designed in 1855 by Stephen Decatur Button, the architect who designed the gatehouse of Gettysburg's Evergreen Cemetery. Evergreen’s gatehouse had direct involvement in the Civil War, having served as a Union Army headquarters during the battle.)

An additional registration area will be set up at the Cobbs Creek Parkway side of the cemetery. Lunch will be served at 11:30 a.m. to registered volunteers, with the clean-up event wrapping up at 1 pm. Free Park Day T-shirts and patches will be provided. Please come prepared to do dirty work! No matter how nice the day might turn out to be, wear long pants, heavy shoes, and long sleeved shirts. Bring work gloves and any garden tools (such as weed clippers) you’d like to use (some rakes and long-handled clippers will be provided). Small and large maintenance projects will be taken on.

Volunteers raking cut weeds from Mount Moriah hillside

A pair of tours is planned as well, each being held twice during the day (10:30 a.m. and 1 pm). One tour will focus on Civil War medicine, and the types of medical problems seen among the soldiers and sailors. Various graves will be visited during the tours, including that of the first recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor (1863), John Williams, Captain of the Main Top, US Navy. Williams’ grave was missing (“lost to history”) for a century, having recently been rediscovered at Mount Moriah.

Mount Moriah Cemetery contains the graves of over 5,000 veterans dating from the French and Indian/Revolutionary Wars to the current conflicts. The cemetery’s Naval Asylum and Civil War Soldiers Plots, owned by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, are part of the National Park Service’s Civil War Era National Cemeteries Shared Heritage Trail. On Park Day, we will have mini-tours for our volunteers led by experienced tour guides through each of these historic plots.

Guided tour of Mount Moriah Cemetery

From the Civil War Trust website:
“Our Mission: The Civil War Trust is America's largest non-profit organization (501-C3) devoted to the preservation of our nation's endangered Civil War battlefields. The Trust also promotes educational programs and heritage tourism initiatives to inform the public of the war's history and the fundamental conflicts that sparked it.

Park Day 2013 is scheduled for April 6. Since 1996, the Civil War Trust has sponsored Park Day, an annual hands-on preservation event to help Civil War battlefields and historic sites take on maintenance projects large and small. Activities are chosen by each participating site to meet their own particular needs and can range from raking leaves and hauling trash to painting signs and trail buildings.

This annual event sponsored by the Civil War Trust and History™ is an excellent opportunity to bring Civil War enthusiasts together in an effort to help keep our nation’s Civil War heritage not only preserved, but pristine."

The Civil War Trust website has a link for Park Day 2013, which shows, by state, all the areas which are scheduled as official volunteer clean-up destinations. Pennsylvania only has three: Gettysburg National Park, Mount Moriah Cemetery, and Highland Cemetery in Lock Haven, Pennsylvania. My friend Dave Wallace is the President of the Highland Cemetery Board of Directors and would certainly welcome any volunteers, if you happen to favor the central Pennsylvania region. (He can be reached at 570-748-5080, or

To pre-register for the Mount Moriah Cemetery “Remembering Gettysburg” Park Day event, please email the Friends of Mount Moriah Cemetery at

References and Further Information:
Surprising facts about the congressional Medal of Honor
The Friends of Mount Moriah Cemetery website
Mount Moriah Cemetery Section map