Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Memorial Day 2012

The rumble of freight trains and trucks is constant and the smell of diesel and the nearby refineries competes with that of the native flowers. But when Riverside Cemetery opened in 1876, Denver was a young city hoping to appear civilized by dedicating a park-like setting to remember its dead. In 1876, Decoration Day was also a relatively new observance, created to honor soldiers killed during the Civil War
Today, Riverside Cemetery is home to over 1,200 Civil War veterans, both Union and Confederate, who came to Colorado after the war to seek their fortunes in the gold fields, homestead, ranch or farm. Others found work on the railroads, as storekeepers, tradesmen, lawmen, politicians and preachers. Block 27, the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) Block, is the location of the majority of Union soldiers buried at Riverside. 
The Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) was a fraternal organization open to all men who had honorably served in the Union Army or Navy, regardless of race. The motto of the GAR was "Fraternity, Charity and Loyalty" and the organization lived up to its ideals, with members looking out for former soldiers in the area. A needy veteran and his family might find a box of groceries or a load of coal on their doorstep. The fraternal was instrumental in obtaining increased government pensions, the creation of federal and state veterans' homes and government-supplied headstones. In Denver, any veteran who was financially unable to afford a funeral was given one paid for by the post.
As the veterans of the Civil War passed away, the GAR also faded into history. There are many ways to hear their stories at Riverside Cemetery, including several self-guided tours and booklets.
(Information about the GAR can be found in a booklet by Raymond C. Thal "The Civil War at Riverside" available from the visitor's center at Riverside, open Thursday and the 1st Wednesday of each month from 10:am to 3:00 pm. 5201 Brighton Blvd. Denver, CO 80216    303-293-2466) 

Decoration Day 2012

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