BATH — It is breathtaking to stand on the hill and look out at rows upon rows of soldiers who fought to keep us free.
I was helping out at a church event at the Bath Veteran Affairs Medical Center when I decided to take a stroll up the hill to see the cemetery. I had heard so much about it by so many people.
According to the national cemetery site, "The cemetery was originally a part of the New York State Soldiers and Sailors Home, which was established in 1877; the cemetery was dedicated in Dec. 25, 1879. In 1930, the Soldiers and Sailors Home and cemetery became two integrated components of the Veterans Administration Medical Center (VAMC). When 82 national cemeteries were transferred from the Department of Army to the Veterans Administration in 1973, the Bath VAMC cemetery became part of the National Cemetery System and was designated appropriately."
Some other cool facts include, Bath is the final resting place of the “first and oldest” U.S. MIAs (Missing in Action). The 28 soldiers had been interred in a traditional manner, lying east-west with hand crossed; this indicates that they had been buried during a lull in the fighting by fellow soldiers rather than the enemy. Further investigation by the military indicated that the men had fought during the Niagara Campaign with clashes at Chippaw and Lundy’s Lane before they died at Snake Hill, a battery overlooking Fort Erie. The Department of the Army, working with Canadian officials, held a repatriation ceremony at Fort Erie, Canada, on June 30, 1988 and the soldiers were interred with full military honors.
I have shared before that I come from a long line of patriots in my family, and that veterans have a special place in my heart. I am glad I was finally able to make a trip up there, and see how much history rests on the sloping hills.
It seems to be a peaceful place to lay down your arms, take your final rest, and be among your fellow comrades. There is a large monument in the middle of the cemetery that reads, “In memory of the Soldiers and Sailors of the war for the preservation of the union who died in the New York State Soldiers and Sailors Home.”
There is another lovely marker with “The Bivouac of the Dead” by Theodore O ‘Hara that reads, “The muffled drum’s sad roll has beat, The soldier’s last tattoo; No More on life’s parade shall meet, That brave and fallen few. On Fame’s eternal camping-ground, Their silent tents are spread, And Glory guards, with solemn round, The Bivouac of the Dead.”
Another smaller marker reads, “The markers in this memorial area honor veterans whose remains have not been recovered or identified, were buried at sea, donated to science, or cremated with the ashes scattered.”
It is incredible to see a soldier who perished in the Civil War buried next to one that perished in Vietnam War. it goes to show you that no matter what war was fought all of these brave men and women deserve a place to be honored.
Remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice so that you could be free. Take a trip up to this national treasure and pay your respects to all our fallen warriors this weekend. For more information visit https://www.cem.va.gov/cems/nchp/bath.asp