Friday, March 27, 2015

Park Day 2015 at Mount Moriah Cemetery

Park Day 2015
March 28, 2015 is America’s  national “Park Day,” sponsored by the Civil War Trust. For the fourth year in a row, the Friends of Mount Moriah Cemetery, Inc. is celebrating with a special event at Mount Moriah Cemetery (half of which is in Philadelphia, half in Yeadon, PA.). Tours and cleanup activities are planned from 9 a.m. – 2 p.m., but feel free to join the crowd and just walk around and explore the cemetery’s hundreds of acres of beauty.

About Park Day 
"Since 1996, the Civil War Trust has sponsored Park Day, an annual hands-on preservation event to help Civil War — and now Revolutionary 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." (ref.)
If you have never been to Mount Moriah, this is a great opportunity to see the site (and the sights) in this massive sacred place that figures so prominently in local and national history. Entry will be via the front gate at 6201 Kingsessing Avenue.  

The recently cleared Circle of Saint John, Mount Moriah Cemetery

Clearing area around Betsy Ross' grave
If it has been a year or more since your last visit to Mount Moriah, you will be amazed at the newly cleared areas (of weeds and other forestation). Literally thousands of volunteers have helped clear such sections as the (Masonic) Circle of Saint John, the area behind the 1855 brownstone gatehouse, and many large plots on the Yeadon side of the cemetery. One of our tours, scheduled for 1 p.m., “Circle of Saint John Forgotten Heroes,” will focus on this dramatic area of the cemetery and its occupants (the grave of Betsy Ross is near the circle – you can’t miss the flagpole!)

While Park Day is mainly about saving historic Civil War battlefields, it also encompasses related historic sites. The Friends of Mount Moriah Cemetery, Inc. is honoring the hundreds of Civil War soldiers and sailors interred in its ground. One of our Park Day tours, in fact, will be “African American Sailors of the Civil War” which will be held in the Naval Asylum plot on the Yeadon side of the cemetery (1 p.m.).

Volunteers transcribing headstone information in the Naval Asylum plot

So what do I mean by “Naval Asylum?” From The Friends of Mount Moriah Cemetery, Inc. website:
"Philadelphia was an important hub for the transportation of supplies and troops from the East Coast to the front lines during the Civil War. In addition to arsenals, supply depots and navy yards, Philadelphia also had numerous military hospitals, as well as the U.S. Naval Home—a hospital and residential care facility for sick and disabled sailors.

During the war, the Federal Government acquired a 10 acre parcel of land on the Yeadon Borough side of the Mount Moriah Cemetery as a burial ground for navy and marine personnel. Originally known as the Naval Asylum, the burial plot was intended for soldiers who died in military hospitals or military rest homes. It also houses the remains of those veterans who were disinterred from the grounds of the U.S. Naval Home."

The 21 Congressional Medal of Honor recipients interred in the Naval Asylum, incidentally, may be the most in any cemetery in the country (excluding Arlington National Cemetery), according to one military expert (ref.). Even if you don’t attend the Naval Asylum tour, a peaceful, contemplative walk through this respectful area is quite sobering  – “In Memory of Our Dead Comrades” as the inscription states on one of Mount Moriah’s G.A.R. monuments.

Naval Asylum plot at Mount Moriah Cemetery, Yeadon, PA side

How to Pay Your Respects:
As stated in the 2015 Civil War Trust Park Day press release:
"You can give back to your country, get out of the house, and honor your heritage all at once by joining the Civil War Trust on Saturday, March 28, for Park Day 2015. Park Day is an annual hands-on preservation event to help maintain Civil War — and now Revolutionary War — battlefields and historic sites across the nation."

Our main work area on March 28 (rain date April 11), should you choose to help out with the cleanup, will be Section 27 on the Philadelphia side of Mount Moriah. Mary A. Brady, a celebrated volunteer Civil War nurse is interred here in her family plot.

Pennsylvania Historic and Museum Commission (PHMC) determined Mount Moriah to be eligible for National Register

Join us for the Friends’ 4th annual Park Day event sponsored by the Civil War Trust and The History Channel. Bring your family and your favorite lawn tools with you to help preserve history.

Location: Philadelphia side

Weather: We’re expecting some cloudy, chilly spring weather; the ground is likely to be wet and marshy. Please wear rain boots or other waterproof boots!

Everyone is welcome to attend a restoration event and help us work to reclaim the cemetery one section at a time. No special skills are needed – just come prepared to work!

We generally have basic hand tools available, such as loppers and clippers, but you are welcome to bring your own tools. Gas powered weed whackers are always welcome, too.

We recommend long pants, sturdy shoes or boots, a hat for sunny days, sunscreen, and bug spray.

Volunteers during a Cleanup Day at Mount Moriah Cemetery

Mount Moriah Location: 6201 Kingsessing Avenue, Philadelphia, PA  19142
(Click here for map.)
Date: March 28, 2015
Rain Date: April 11, 2015
Watch the dramatic video, "Mount Moriah Documentary," by Jonathan Barmby and David Mielcarek of Elevate Cinema
The Friends of Mount Moriah Cemetery, Inc. website
The Friends of Mount Moriah Cemetery, Inc. Facebook Group Page