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Sgt. Maj. of the Army to speak at Funeral for 13,000

ANDERSONVILLE — On Friday, Saturday and Sunday,  Andersonville National Historic Site will host its capstone event for the 150th anniversary of the Civil War. This three-day weekend will invite historians, active duty military, Civil War descendants, former POWs and the public to honor the 13,000 United States soldiers, and civilians who died while in captivity at Camp Sumter Military Prison, known as Andersonville. Thousands of visitors from across the country are expected for this once in a lifetime event. Throughout the event visitors will have the opportunity to donate canned goods at the museum during daytime hours or at the front gate during the Memorial Illumination. In a place where thousands of prisoners starved the National Park Service wants to encourage visitors to help Sumter County by bringing items to ensure that no families go without food.
Friday, Sept. 18 marks National POW/MIA Recognition Day and the opening of 150th anniversary events at Andersonville National Historic Site. The public is welcome to attend the opening ceremony at 10 a.m. held in the national cemetery with assistance from the Ride Home organization. This ceremony will highlight the experiences of both Civil War POWs and modern POWs. Ranger programs and guest speakers will be featured from 11 a.m.-5 p.m.  across the park, mostly outdoors. Former POW Brig. Gen. Rhonda Cornum will be speaking at 11:30 a.m. at the National Prisoner of War Museum following the opening ceremony. A program tent will be set up adjacent to the museum. Visitors to the park should be prepared to park their vehicles and walk to programs or step onto shuttles that will be running throughout the day from 8 a.m.-6 p.m. A food truck will be available at the picnic area for lunch and snack service on Friday and Saturday. Park grounds will close briefly at 6 p.m. and reopen at 7 p.m. for the Memorial Illumination. This Memorial Illumination will take place both from 7-10 p.m. Friday and Saturday nights. A donation of canned food is encouraged for admission. During the Memorial Illumination, both the museum and national cemetery will be closed.
Saturday, Sept. 19 will host park programs from9 a.m.-5 p.m. across the park grounds. At 10 a.m. a wreath laying service will take place at the National Prisoner of War Museum with music by Georgia State bagpiper Dan Bray. The highlight of the day will be the “Funeral for 13,000” memorial service which honors the almost 13,000 United States soldiers, sailors, marines and civilians that died at Andersonville. Preliminary music will begin at 12:45 p.m. Attendees are encouraged to be in the park by noon. Camp chairs and blankets are encouraged. Service animals are always welcome, but visitors should refrain from bringing pets to ceremony. Music will be provided by the Maneuver Center of Excellence Brass Quintet.  Guest speakers include Dr. Lesley Gordon from the University of Akron, Poet Laureate of Georgia Judson Mitcham and Sgt. Maj. of the Army Daniel Dailey. Dailey will be giving the keynote address. The program will also include a ceremonial casket on horse-drawn caisson, military honors led by Georgia National Guard, musical selections and a wreath ceremony supported by the U.S. Army, U.S. Navy and U.S. Marines. Coverage will be live on C-SPAN during this midday program. Programs and kid’s activities will resume following the funeral service. Park grounds will close at 6 p.m. and the luminary loop will reopen at 7 p.m. to vehicles for the final night of the Memorial Illumination.
Sunday, Sept. 20 will have programs throughout the park grounds from 9 a.m.- 5 p.m.  Guided ranger programs about the history of the national cemetery, Confederate leadership and the departure of prisoners will be presented at various locations. Guest historians will be sharing stories of Andersonville monuments and regiments. Special guests will be available to sign their books at the museum. Daily program schedules will be available at the museum and from park volunteers on all three days. Visitors will also be able to collect a souvenir stamp for their National Park passport; this “Funeral for 13,000” ink stamp will only be available during the month of September. Families are encouraged and children will be able to earn special Junior Ranger ribbon badges by completing three activities during their visit. Food service will be limited at the park on Sunday, but businesses in Andersonville, Oglethorpe and Americus will be available. A brief closing ceremony will begin at 5 p.m. at the National Prisoner of War Museum to conclude the weekend’s events. Park grounds will close at 6 p.m. on Sunday.
The public is encouraged to attend this free event in honor of the fallen Civil War soldiers, and to honor POWs throughout our history. For more information visit, www.nps.gov/ande/planyourvisit/cw150.htm  or find us on Facebook at facebook.com/AndersonvilleNPS