Green-Wood Historian Fights To Honor Long-Forgotten Veterans

Green-Wood Historian Fights To Honor Long-Forgotten Veterans

There is no greater gift to this country than a solider who laid down his or her own life for our freedom, and although the Veterans Administration has spent over a century honoring those lives by placing markers on the unmarked graves of American soldiers, Green-Wood historian Jeff Richman says that “because of a recent and uncalled-for change in regulations by the Veterans Administration, veterans’ graves no longer are being marked.”

What are those regulations? In order for an unmarked grave to receive a marker, a request must be made by the next-of-kin (NOK), and according to the U.S. Department of Veteran’s Affairs website, “if someone other than the NOK is applying for the headstone, marker or medallion, the application package must include a written statement signed by the NOK or decedent authorizing that person (the applicant) to apply for this benefit.”

This is obviously going to cause some difficulties when the unmarked grave you’re looking to recognize is almost 150 years old.

Without that NOK signature, historians, cemeteries, museums, and other research organizations are stuck, leaving the sacrifices of countless American soldiers in the dark.

William Peter Strickland is one of those soldiers. According to Jeff:

William Peter Strickland (1809-1884) served as chaplain of the 48th New York Infantry for two years during the Civil War. Strickland, like many Northern Evangelicals, believed that serving the Union was “the most sacred duty of every liberty-loving American citizen.” He is interred in Brooklyn’s Green-Wood Cemetery in an unmarked grave.
An application was made to the Veterans Administration for a headstone for him. That application was rejected because the applicant, the cemetery where he is buried, was not next-of-kin. Chaplain Strickland lies today, 150 years after his service to his country, in an unmarked grave (the yellow flag in the photo above represents where the headstone for Chaplain Strickland would be placed). We know who he was. We know that he served his country. Shouldn’t his grave be marked? Shouldn’t his service to his country be honored? We think so!

So do we.

Along with historians in both New York and New Jersey, Jeff has put together a petition, asking that graves 62 years and older be made exempt from the new regulations. Adding your signature is easy. Just visit the Mark Their Graves Website, where you can also find detailed information about the project itself.

These forgotten soldiers are our history. Let’s show them the respect they deserve and ensure that their service will never be forgotten.

Image via Mark Their Graves


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