This year’s luminary program at Poplar Grove National Cemetery, held last Saturday evening, was a moving event with a heavy emphasis on community. A total of 6,000 candles illuminated a cemetery where over 6,000 Union soldiers are buried. The event is held each year and coincides with Veterans Day.
Petersburg National Battlefield hosts the program to honor veterans past and present by telling the stories of some of the Civil War soldiers buried in the cemetery. One of the goals is to remind visitors of the sacrifices made by soldiers in order to preserve freedom for the citizens of the United States.
This was truly a community event, as 120 soldiers from nearby Fort Lee took care of assembling and placing luminary bags on each grave that morning. The candles were later lit by local Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts, families, individuals and soldiers from Fort Lee who had returned to see the luminary. Providing the evening’s background bagpipe music was Virginia State Trooper Mike McCann. Local high school students, dressed in period uniforms, were stationed at four graves to tell the stories of the stories of the soldiers buried there and several more students greeted visitors as they arrived. Over 300 visitors attended the evening’s program.
Other contributors to this program included staff members of the City of Petersburg and students from Petersburg High School and Prince George High School. Petersburg National Battlefield is extremely grateful to all those who donated their time and effort to honor these soldiers and for making this event a success. We look forward to doing it again in 2011.