Green-Wood Cemetery came ‘alive’ for Memorial Day and Civil War

for The Brooklyn Paper
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History buffs were in all their glory this weekend at Green-Wood Cemetery, as the Sunset Park boneyard hosted festivities to commemorate both Memorial Day and the 150th anniversary of the Civil War.

On Sunday night, Civil War re-enactors and cavalry horses marched through the 173-year-old cemetery to the tunes of 19th-century military songs. The procession visited the graves of some of Green-Wood’s 4,500 Civil War veterans, all of which were illuminated by candles (even though some of them are Confederates!).

The next day, hundreds joined the march to the Civil War Soldiers’ Lot, where more than 127 vets are buried. About 25 descendants attended the event to pay tribute to their ancestors, many of whom fought in famous battles such as Shiloh and Gettysburg. They announced the names of their deceased relatives and shared the war stories they had heard.

“History came alive at Green-Wood with all the personal stories,” said cemetery historian Jeff Richman.

Green-Wood also opened its multi-media exhibit “Honoring Their Sacrifice,” which displays Civil War artifacts like cannons and letters.

“This weekend’s commemorations help keep alive the legacy of so many who may be long gone, but will never be forgotten,” said Green-Wood President Richard Moylan

The celebration concluded with a performance by the ISO Symphonic Band, a Brooklyn-based orchestra that performed Civil War-era songs.

Green-Wood opened in 1838 and became one of the most popular places to be buried during and after the Civil War. The thousands of Civil War service members with Green-Wood graves include 18 generals, more than any other cemetery in the country except Arlington and West Point.

“Honoring their Sacrifice” continues at Green-Wood Cemetery’s Historic Chapel [Fifth Avenue at 25th Street in Sunset Park, (718) 768-7300] through June 12. Hours: weekdays, noon-4 pm; weekends, 11 am-6 pm. For info, visit

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Reader Feedback

nancy from coneyisland says:
im all 4 celebrating the scarafices of vets from all wars
but a cemetary is not the place 4 that. a procession around fine but not not parades and music and movies and everything thats going on there horse riders and talks and parties and shows. is greenwood a cematary or a park alot of the stuff they do there is disrespectful to the intered and alot of plot owners there feel the same way.
June 2, 2011, 9:54 pm

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