Thursday, July 4, 2013

Tika & July 4th & Cemeteries

Spokane has two military cemeteries; one is the small Fort George Wright Cemetery and one is the brand new military cemetery southwest of town. I enjoy taking Tika and walking the Centennial Trail which runs past this spot. We always pause to remember why the cemetery is here and remember those resting therein. Thanks to the Spokane Historical website for the sketch of  the Fort George Wright cemetery. (My pictures from fall 2012.)

When Fort George Wright was constructed in the 1890s, effort was made to ensure a proper final resting place could be afforded the men who died there during in military service. A peaceful spot was selected away from the main base, overlooking the Spokane River. In 1900, remains from Fort Sherman  (in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho) and Fort Spokane (west of Spokane on the Columbia River) were disinterred and moved to the Fort George Wright Cemetery. 

Families of active duty soldiers were allowed in the cemetery, and you will notice a preponderance of infant and small child  graves throughout the grounds. This is owing in large part to the high mortality rates of late 19th and early 20th century children. Advances in modern medicine would cut these rates dramatically. But they now serve as a sad reminder of a time  before modern medical practice. 

Veterans of all branches of the military are represented at the cemetery. The cemetery was always integrated, as shown by the black veterans of the Spanish-American War that are interred here, such as Andrew Booker and William Morris, whose 25th Infantry fought alongside Theodore Roosevelt during the famous battles near San Juan Hill. Navy men such as Eugene Alfred Gideon are buried here. Gideon died during WWII after serving onboard the U.S.S. Denver, a light cruiser which served during the Battle of Leyte Gulf. US Army Ranger Infantryman James Francis Clopton is here interred. He fell in battle during the infamous "May Massacre" during the Korean War, during which the 23rd Infantry was hit with friendly fire followed by a massive Chinese attack. 

Throughout the grounds you will notice trees marked as "Gettysburg Address Sycamores". These were planted from the seeds of the very old Sycamores that overlook the Gettysburg battlefield. These are just some of the improvements made to the grounds by Fairchild Air Force base, which still maintains the cemetery. Behind the cemetery, make sure to take in the spectacular view of the Spokane River below. The peaceful nature of the location is perfect for quite reflection and remembrance. 

1 comment:

  1. Gettysburg address Sycamores, nice touch for the cemetery.