On a rainy Tuesday I visited Woodlawn National Cemetery in Elmira, NY. I’d driven by this a few times but had never been through the gates and I figured on the outer edge of Memorial Day Weekend would be a good time to go pay my respects to those who fought for our freedoms. I was surprised by the number of children’s graves who were placed alongside their parents – I took it as a sign of how far our medical care has progressed.
From a photography standpoint there were leading lines everywhere and I had a hard time deciding where my next shot should lie. I would’ve liked to use my Nifty Fifty but since I don’t have a lens hood for that I was afraid I would end up with more raindrops on my lens than usable pictures.
I learned that what is now Elmira Correctional Facility (which is visible beyond the cemetery gates) was in the 1860′s a POW prison for Confederate soldiers. 2,978 Confederate soldiers were buried here by John Jones, an escaped slave. Mr. Jones kept such meticulous notes that in 1907 when the federal government authorized the placement of headstones on the graves each was inscribed with the deceased’s name, regiment, and grave number.
In 1937, The United Daughters of the Confederacy placed a monument in memory of the Confederate POW’s who lost their lives while imprisoned in Elmira and were buried in Woodlawn Cemetery. The statue overlooks the Confederate graves and faces east. I chose to focus on the soldier’s rain spattered boots where someone had thoughtfully placed some carnations in memoriam. A belated thank you to all the soldiers who have fought and continue to fight so allow us the freedoms we so often take for granted. Your sacrifices are not forgotten.