Subject: Memorial Day 2013 Address
Author: Marty Willett
Date:   5/27/2013 5:22 pm EDT

Ladies, Gentlemen and Distinguished Guests, today marks one of our nation’s most solemn and sacred of all commemorations – Memorial Day – a day set aside to remember and honor those who gave the ultimate sacrifice in service of their country. The Fort Hawkins Commission (recognize attendees) believes that we should not only preserve the fort’s amazing early American history, but also preserve the memory of this hallowed burial ground on this most special of national observances.

The Commission is proud to have the fort site open every weekend and for the remainder of this afternoon after our service here for your exploration and reflection on this important day. Since 1806 Fort Hawkins has been a reminder that every day in Middle GA is Armed Forces appreciation day! Since 1806 this cemetery was the official burial grounds for the fort and surrounding countryside and became an official public burying ground by the GA General Assembly in 1823.

From the fort’s founding in 1806 to its decommissioning in 1828, this Fort Hill Cemetery was the final resting place for those who gave that ultimate sacrifice in service to their country. Today, despite its neglected condition, not so unlike that of this national occasion’s meaning, we are still surrounded by a serene sense of its historical importance and by the service and sacrifices of its countless veterans.

Some proud veterans are living amongst us now – and we will be eternally grateful for your service which has made our nation and world a better place. Why over there lies a veteran from the Spanish-American War, under the oak lies a peacetime veteran from the 1930’s, there in the enclosure is a Confederate General and right yonder is a Confederate Sgt., between those two are two PFC’s from WWII – and lest we forget – just around the bend are veteran’s grave markers from WWI to the present – all from unknown grave sites.

But we are not here for them today. We are here for those who gave the ultimate gift of life. You see before you there twenty symbolic American flags representing the estimated 20 – 200 U.S. Army soldiers who served and died for their country at Fort Hawkins and thus were buried here at Fort Hill Cemetery. Although their final resting places have been lost with time, we will not allow their memory to become lost. As we do more to preserve nearby Fort Hawkins, rest assured that we will likewise do more and more to become better stewards of this hallowed ground and its sacred heritage.

Therefore, this year we would like to call out the names of the known serviceman who served and died at Fort Hawkins and who should be remembered on Memorial Day at this special place. The only burial place older than this is found at the Ocmulgee National Monument’s Funeral Mound. However, two mounds have borne the names of those serving at Fort Hawkins, Capt. Robert McDougal (1809) and Fort Factor Jonathan Halsted (1814). The NPS disputes any such burials – so both may be here at Fort Hill.

Other known servicemen buried here include Lt. Thomas Darnell (1815); Major Philemon Hawkins (Col. Hawkins nephew – 1817); Capt. Christopher Keiser (1819); Sgt. James Elliott (1815); and Sgt. George Gordon (1813). Arlington may have its unknowns, but as you have discovered here today, there are many other deserving “unknowns” here at Fort Hill Cemetery. Today we remember their Fort Hawkins service and sacrifice of so many years ago, here, on the Nation’s emerging frontier, and during our Second War of Independence in 1812, while birthing Bibb County, Macon and Middle Georgia.

Thank you all for attending and please come visit with us at Fort Hawkins and at – God Bless America and God Bless of Fort Hill Cemetery 2013 Memorial Day Observance!

Marty Willett, Fort Hawkins Commission Press Officer & Project Coordinator
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 Topics Author  Date      
 Memorial Day 2013 Address    
Marty Willett 5/27/2013 5:22 pm EDT
 Memorial Day 2013 Report   new  
Marty Willett 5/27/2013 5:22 pm EDT
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