This Memorial Day, Monday, May 29, 2023, the National Park Service will host its annual Memorial Day Commemoration at the Fredericksburg National Cemetery. The program will start at 12 noon in the cemetery and is free to the public. In the case of inclement weather, the event will be cancelled.
The National Park Service’s Memorial Day Commemoration honors the men and women who gave their lives in military service to the United States. The commemoration will include a keynote speech and will conclude with a bugler performance of “Taps.”
The keynote speaker this year is Lewis Rogers, Superintendent of Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park. Rogers is a 39-year veteran of the National Park Service. He has previously served in 12 posts throughout the National Park Service, including a number of parks with strong historical and cultural themes such as Independence NHP, Valley Forge NHS, Booker T. Washington NM and Saint-Gaudens NHS. Serving in these parks provided Lewis with the opportunity to witness how each grappled with the challenge of telling a complete story.
Superintendent Rogers says, “History is not about the past nor is it about a chronology of historical events. History is about the present and the future. History is about values we hold dear. History is about the stories we choose to pass on to our children and emulate in our country.”
In addition to his National Park Service career, Rogers served 8 years in the US Naval Reserves as a heavy equipment operator in the Construction Battalion (SeaBees).
The 23rd Regiment United States Colored Troops living history unit will provide the color guard for the ceremony. The 23rd USCT portrays a historical Civil War regiment of Black soldiers, many of whom were from the Fredericksburg area. Its members write and teach about the diversity of military experience in the Civil War.
During the day, park rangers will offer free guided tours of the Sunken Road, a significant part of the Fredericksburg Battlefield. Tours start at 10:30 am and 2 pm outside the Visitor Center.
The Fredericksburg National Cemetery was established in 1866 and remained open for military burials until 1945. It holds the remains of 15,243 soldiers, sailors, and Marines, most of whom died during the Civil War. At least 85% of the graves are unidentified, resulting in over 12,770 unknowns. Memorial Day commemorations in the National Cemetery date back to 1871.
The cemetery is located at the intersection of Sunken Road and Lafayette Boulevard. Parking will be available at or adjacent to the Fredericksburg Battlefield Visitor Center at 1013 Lafayette Boulevard.
A separate luminary event will be held at the Fredericksburg National Cemetery on Saturday, May 27, 2023.
Please note that pets are not permitted in the cemetery.