It would probably be overly dramatic to say the sky was weeping as we made our way to the national cemetery and held a brief ceremony this morning, July 3. But I couldn’t help noticing that, despite clouds and humidity, the rain held off yesterday and today until shortly before the ceremony. It was a gentle, steady rain that stopped a few minutes after we finished honoring the Minnesota dead.
Fifty-two Minnesota soldiers are buried at the national cemetery at Gettysburg. Two more, William R. Allen, of Richfield, and Marcus Aurelius Past, of Brooklyn Township, are buried at Evergreen, the local cemetery next door.
Members of the Minnesota delegation placed commemorative Civil War veteran flags at each of the 52 Minnesota graves at the national cemetery. Earlier in the morning, a few members had also placed them at the two graves in Evergreen Cemetery.
The delegation also rededicated a marble urn that sits next to the 1st Minnesota graves in the national cemetery. Placed in 1867, the urn was the first regimental monument on the battlefield. It’s now the only urn on the battlefield. Darryl and Diane Sannes, of Brooklyn Center, “adopted” the urn a couple years ago. They started a fund to pay for historically accurate plantings in the urn. A local volunteer serves as the gardener for the urn.
Darryl, who is a member of the Minnesota Civil War Commemoration Task Force, as well as the Brooklyn Historical Society, led the rededication ceremony, which ended with a moment of silence, a prayer by task force member Jeff Williams and a rendition of “Taps,” played on the harmonica by Jefferson Spilman of the 1st Minnesota re-enactors.
It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement and glory of the charges and valor at the Battle of Gettysburg, but this morning was a solemn reminder that war isn’t about charges and excitement and glory – it has real consequences and takes human lives.