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Friday, June 24, 2016

The "A List Of Service In Lancaster" Story

Entrance into the Riverview Burial Park
It was an ordinary day.  Driving through Riverview Burial Park in the southern end of Lancaster City.  The verdant landscape is covered with small American Flags that recognize the graves of those who served their country in conflicts from the Revolutionary War through the Vietnam War.  The mid-morning sunlight reflects off the granite headstones and crosses and casts eerie shadows to their sides.  My Grandfather Joseph, Grandmother Grace and Uncle Clair are buried next to each other in this cemetery.  I made my visit today to see the large section in the cemetery where the veterans are buried, since I recently read that Lancaster County has a resource available to all residents who can search for their relatives and friends who served and see exactly where they might be buried in Lancaster County.  
Row after row of stone crosses, and a few stone Star of David
monuments, line the hills of the Riverview Burial Park
The list is known as the Lancaster County Veteran Burial Index and has more than 17,000 Lancaster County veterans along with period of service, year of death and place of burial.  Their burials might be in local cemeteries, churchyards or family plots as long as they died between the late 1700s through the 1980s.  
Rank, name, Company and birth/death years on the stones
I noticed, when I pulled the website up on my computer, that my father wasn't listed, but then realized he was buried in 2008.  Some prominent names on the list are former President of the United States, James Buchanan who served in the War of 1812 and is buried in Woodard Hill Cemetery; Major General John F. Reynolds who was killed at the start of the Battle of Gettysburg during the Civil War and is buried in Lancaster Cemetery; and Brigadier General Edward Hand who is buried in the St. James Episcopal Churchyard.  
Small plaque listing the war and years of service
As I walked among the graves I noticed that in front of each grave site is a small metal plaque that lists the conflict in which they were involved.  Many died during their service while others died of natural causes.  Many of the names on the list are due to the federal Works Progress Administration effort in the 1930s.  Data gatherers were sent throughout the countryside to gather information from residents as well as from gravestones.  My hope is that sometime there will be another effort to gather information from the years after the 1980s so that my father can have his name placed on the list.  His name is also on a memorial monument in the St. James Episcopal Churchyard in downtown Lancaster.  You can find the Lancaster County list at www.co.lancaster.pa.us/DocumentCenter/Home/View/255.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.  PS - click on photos to enlarge them.



Old Glory towers high above the graves

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