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Fredericksburg's Ladies Memorial Association is one of only a few left
Date published: 5/27/2012
It wasn't uncommon, said Johnson, for out-of-towners to call her mother and ask for information about ancestors buried in the Confederate Cemetery.
Crookshanks, a history lover, passed away in the fall and will be honored during Monday's Memorial Day service.
Johnson, the association's secretary, said the organization likely thrives because of its focus on historical preservation.
"Having a focus and not passing it is what keeps us going," she said.
Current President Ginnie Branscome also credits help from other local organizations.
For instance, members of Perry's group have even spent Halloween nights in the cemetery to deter vandals.
"We don't want anything to happen to those stones. It's sacred ground, it really is," said Perry, whose great-great-grandfather, a Confederate veteran, is buried on the city side of the cemetery. "If we can't protect them, who will?"
Jacqueline Descaro, vice president of the Fredericksburg chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, describes the property as "kind of like a family cemetery."
Six of her ancestors fought for the Confederacy, and she now volunteers to plant flags and luminarias on Confederate graves for Memorial Day.
"They're still veterans and they're all Americans, and they should be honored," she said. "To me, they need to be respected. That's what Memorial Day is all about."
The day's activities are the most public event of the year for the local Ladies Memorial Association. Its charter forbids fundraising efforts, said Branscome, so you won't catch it sponsoring bake sales or the like.
Instead, members work quietly in the background, applying for grants and accepting donations that, along with some investments, cover the cemetery's yearly expenses of roughly $20,000.
While similar organizations have disappeared over the years, Branscome said she hopes Fredericksburg's association will always be active.
"Everybody here feels dedicated to doing what we can for the cemetery," she said. "I won't be here [in 150 years], but hopefully somebody will be doing exactly what we're doing."
Edie Gross: 540/374-5428
A LONG TRADITION
The Fredericksburg Ladies Memorial Association was founded in 1866 to reinter the Confederate dead and care for their graves. For more information about the nonprofit, visit cemetery
Fredericksburg resident William Freehling, historian and author of "The Road to Disunion" and other works, will deliver the keynote speech at the Confederate Cemetery at 10 a.m. Monday.
Visitors are encouraged to bring chairs or blankets to the free event, which is hosted by the Ladies Memorial Association.
A separate ceremony will take place at the Confederate Cemetery in Spotsylvania, off State Route 208 near the courthouse, at 2 p.m.