Posts Tagged ‘cross’

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On this trip to Ireland, I got to revisit the little cemetery at the visitor center on the Hill of Tara.


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In a tiny little veterans section of Lake View Cemetery, I found a more diverse selection of the emblems of belief available for government headstones for veterans. All the available emblems are listed here.

The most common one that I see is described simply as a Christian Cross.

Sgt. Eddie Fields’ stone has the symbol for the United Methodist Church.
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The Roberts selected the emblem for the Unitarian Church/Unitarian Universalist Association.
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The emblem for the United Church of Christ tops Sgt. Yancey’s stone.
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Cpl. Mack Crosby has the Episcopal Cross.
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The Didios’ stone has a symbol designated as representing “Christian Church.”

The Nesbitts have a Star of David, representative of Judaism.

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Sacred to the memory of Alexander Doull, Colonel of Artillery in the Army of the Potomac, previously lieutenant in the Royal British Artillery

The inscription on Colonel Doull’s tombstone reminds us of a fact about the United States Civil War that be forgotten – the important role that immigrants played in the armies. About 25% of the Union army was estimated to be foreign-born immigrants. With the rate of immigration in the 19th century, we also have to assume that there was a significant slice of the United States-born soldiers who had parents or grandparents who were immigrants.

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There aren’t a lot of crosses in Gettysburg National Military Park. The 142nd Pennsylvania has this rough-hewn, rugged cross.

142nd Pennsylvania Infantry

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The cross and crown is a common Christian symbol, and it appears on tombstones with some frequency. The cross is supposed to represent the trials and tribulations of mortal life; while the cross represents the afterlife in heaven. Combined, they function as a promise of a better immortal life beyond the troubles of life on earth.



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Last night, a friend of mine passed away. She was on the trip to Ireland I took in 2009, and she was a follower of this blog. I didn’t have the opportunity to know her nearly as long or as well as many others, but I treasured the time I did have with her. I am reposting something I wrote last year about a place we both enjoyed visiting very much. Rest in peace, Mary.

Glendalough Visitor Centre

While in Ireland last year, I visited Glendalough, the site of a medieval monastic settlement.

Gate to Glendalough


Glendalough, or “the valley of the two lakes,” is about an hour south of Dublin in County Wicklow. The monastery there was founded by St. Kevin in the 6th century. Kevin died in about 618 AD, but the monastery flourished until it was destroyed by English troops in 1398. The church continued to operate after the monastic settlement was disbanded. The buildings that remain in ruins date to the 1100s and 1200s.

St. Kevin's Church


I was anticipating seeing medieval buildings and maybe a few surviving grave slabs or monuments, which was exciting enough. But when we entered the gate, we found tombstones that date from well after 1398.


Glendalough, being a the final resting place of a saint, continued to be a popular place for burial, even as the buildings fell to ruins. Tombstones were everywhere. They were attached to the remaining stones walls that used to be chapels and churches.


Grave slabs and fallen tombstones lined the floor of the former cathedral.


Tombstones were interspersed with the buildings, right up against them, falling over themselves to squeeze as many as possible into the sacred ground.

Stone and wall
Multiple generations of families would have a common marker, with new names added to the bottom until they ran out of family or ran out of space.


Byrnes and Healys

Glendalough feels both peaceful and isolated, an island of quiet where one can go to contemplate the spiritual surrounded by generations before who found the same tranquility so compelling that they chose to spend eternity there.

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All of the free-standing crosses I photographed in the National Cemetery at Gettysburg were stark and simple – a vertical bar with a horizontal crossbeam near the top.  All three were for World War I soldiers who had while in service and two of the three were these simple white constructions that resemble photographs I have seen of the vast World War I cemeteries in France.

Underwood Edward

Feldmann William John


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