Poplar Grove Cemetery to hold Veteran’s Day luminary service

By: Sherry Williams Kidd | Twitter: @DinwiddieMonitr
Posted: November 4, 2019 | 1:45 p.m. 

VIRGINIA – In its observance of Veteran’s Day, Petersburg National Battlefield will be hosting its annual Poplar Grove National Cemetery Luminary Program. The somber, reverent, and beautiful program will be held on Saturday evening, November 9.

Petersburg National Battlefield is also giving area residents an opportunity to personally participate in the program. They are seeking volunteers that would be willing to help in the lighting of the luminaries on over 6,000 gravesites that evening. If you would like to help, please bring your own lighter. The program will honor veterans, both past and present, by literally shedding light on the gravesites of those who made the ultimate sacrifice in defense of our country.

The moving Annual Luminary Program will take place at Poplar Grove National Cemetery, from 5:30 through 7:30 p.m. Due to space limitations, there will be no parking allowed at the Cemetery. Park staff, volunteers, and visitors that wish to attend the program can park at Richard Bland College, located at 11301 Johnson Road, South Prince George. Free shuttles will provide transportation to and from the cemetery. The first shuttle will depart from Richard Bland College at 4 p.m. and will make continuous round-trips to the cemetery. The last shuttle will depart Poplar Grove Cemetery at 7:45 p.m. Visitors are encouraged to bring flashlights to help in avoiding tripping or stepping on exposed tree roots. This event may be canceled due to inclement weather. For additional information, including program status or to register as a volunteer, please telephone (804) 732-3531, extension 200, or e-mail Ranger Betsy Dinger at Elizabeth_Dinger@nps.gov. Those individuals that volunteer to help in lighting the luminaries are asked to remember to bring their own lighters.

This powerful evening program at Poplar Grove National Cemetery includes each of the over-6,000 graves being lit with a luminary candle, the always moving and stirring playing of Taps, and selected stories of those who laid down their lives for their beliefs. This is a community event, which would not be possible without the assistance of personnel from the neighboring Fort Lee Army Post, local Boy Scout and Girl Scout Troops, Richard Bland College, area residents that volunteer, and National Park Service volunteers. The National Park Service would like to thank all those who donate their time and efforts to provide public programs.

“The Poplar Grove Luminary Program is a way to remember, with gratitude, the service of all our Veterans, past and present,” remarked Elizabeth, Betsy, Dinger, Park Ranger. “Many of the luminary bags set out for the event, feature messages of thanks from family descendants of those that were interred here. Those messages remind all of us that the way of life that we enjoy today is because of the service of our Veterans.”

Poplar Grove National Cemetery was established in 1866. Prior to the Civil War, the land where the cemetery now exists belonged to Reverend Thomas B. Flowers. During the Civil War, the future cemetery grounds were used as a campground by the 50th New York Engineers during the Siege of Petersburg. Today, there are close to 6,200 Soldiers buried in the cemetery; however, only 2,139 of these brave men that gave everything for their beliefs, have ever been positively identified.

Copyright 2019 by Womack Publishing
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