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August 22, 2011


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Retired to teach

You will find the same cast metal sign at many other national cemetaries, so yes, it seems it is there to warn visiters that it is a crime to desecrate the cemetary. That is reinforced by the presence of another cast metal sign at many cemetaries containing War Department General Order 80 from 1875, banning picnic parties on cemetery grounds. The best indication, based on their similarity to the similar cast metal signs with verses from Theodore O'Hara's 1847 poem "Bivouac of the Dead," seems to be that the original cast metal signs, likely made at the War Department's Rock Island Arsenal, were placed in the early 1880s, replacing earlier wooden signs. By that time the parklike setting would have been an attraction to young people,and overturning headstones is probably not a new development among rowdy youths.

Alfred Brophy

Thank you for those thoughtful comments, RTT. Very interesting.

I've never seen a plaque like this, nor one with General Order 80, at a National Cemetery -- or at least I don't remember them. Maybe now that I know what to look for, I'll "see" them.

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