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Civil War re-enactors commemorate Memorial Day

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LAWRENCEVILLE — The gravestones in Hillcrest Cemetery are fading now. In a few years, no one driving by the aging stones might know the story of George H. Green, wounded in action in Pennsylvania on May 13, 1864, or other Civil War veterans laid to rest here.

“They’re being worn away,” Civil War re-enactor Dallas Robinson said of the gravestones.

“These people deserve a voice. They deserve a face,” according to re-enactor Daniel D. Reandeau. “For whatever reason they fought.”

The battles took place 150 years ago, but those in attendance Saturday at the Memorial Day weekend Civil War re-enactment wanted to keep those stories alive.

A group of re-enactors representing the 118th New York Infantry camped out in period tents near the cemetery.

Each hour on the hour, taps was played, and participants in period uniforms walked around the cemetery, saluting the fallen. Cannon fire capped off the salute.

Hillcrest Cemetery officials said six or seven Civil War soldiers are buried in the small cemetery, which is off Route 11.

This is the first year Lawrenceville has held such an event, according to Hillcrest Cemetery President William C. Scharf.

“What we’re trying to do is teach the young kids,” Mr. Scharf said. “We’re dedicating this whole event to the fallen soldiers.”

Hillcrest’s couple of hundred graves include veterans of conflicts from the Civil War to Vietnam, former cemetery Treasurer Barbara A. Cooper said. Each time she saw the re-enactors salute on Saturday, she said, she felt more patriotic.

Saturday’s event was fitting for Memorial Day weekend, she said. “If you forget these people, you tend to repeat things,” she said. “History needs to be remembered.”

Re-enacting keeps the stories of past generations alive, Mr. Robinson said. “It gives me a chance to go through, on a very low level, of what my ancestors did,” he said.

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