A trip to New Orleans isn’t complete without a story or two. My St. Pat’s visit yielded this centerpiece on Chalmette Cemetery. It starts like this:
For the first time in decades, perhaps even a century, the names of fallen heroes are being brought to light in Chalmette National Cemetery.
Volunteers kneel in the soft dirt beside long-neglected graves and hand-scrub the marble markers until the names of the lost men and women — the majority of them Union soldiers from the Civil War but also fighters from the War of 1812, the Spanish-American War, both world wars and the Vietnam War — start to reappear.
Here’s George C. Coleman, 21, of New York, who died in April 1864 at the Battle of Sabine Crossroads in Louisiana.
Townsend Stevens, of Ohio, and James McElroy, of Pennsylvania, privates in the 6th U.S. Cavalry, lie side by side. McElroy died on July 28, 1866, Stevens the next day.
It’s slow, physically demanding labor, but those taking part in a monthlong cleanup effort say it’s worth it.
“A lot of people overlook this area. They come here to exercise, but they don’t understand the significance of these lands,” said St. Bernard native Kim Samaniego, 19. “This gives me a new view of my hometown and its history as I continue the legacy of stewardship.”