The History of Springfield National Cemetery

May 28, 2008

About 15 hundred people attended a ceremony on Memorial Day at Springfield National Cemetery. As part of KSMU’s ongoing local history series “A Sense of Place,” KSMU’s Missy Shelton visited the cemetery to find out what it can teach us about the past.

The history of Springfield National Cemetery is apparent when you first pull up to the narrow black gates at the cemetery’s entrance.

And changing those narrow gates is impossible given that the cemetery is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Gary Edmundson is a veteran himself and oversees the cemetery where more than 15,000 veterans and their family members are buried…in fact, among the dead are veterans of every war in American history.

Springfield National Cemetery was established in 1867. Edmundson says it came into existence because of the Civil War.

Near the entrance of the cemetery where union soldiers are buried together, there’s a statue of Nathaniel Lyon, a brigadier general in the Union Army who was killed at the Battle of Wilson’s Creek. Springfield National Cemetery isn’t just for union soldiers…Edmundson says there are confederate soldiers buried here too.

The confederate section includes a statue of a confederate soldier overlooking the graves. This section opened up to soldiers of other wars in the 1980’s…their graves are marked with flat headstones.

The history of the cemetery is intertwined with the life stories of the men and women buried here. Edmundson says there are some amazing stories.

Whether it’s closure or the chance to remember a loved one, walking the narrow roads of Springfield National Cemetery are like walking down memory lane…the history of this country is intertwined with the history of this place, which offers the chance to reflect on the sacrifices of veterans and their families.