It's officially been one year since we introduced the "Stories in Stone" blog feature. Now it's time for a slight change after 52 consecutive weeks of introducing readers to just a small sampling of the 40,000+ special "life stories" that constitute the population of Mount Olivet Cemetery.
The stories will continue to come as we wrap up this year and head into 2018, however, new editions will come bi-weekly instead of weekly. In the "off weeks," we will offer a reprise of some of our finest pieces from the past year. This all comes as a result of something new and equally time consuming that I'm presently researching and building for the cemetery.
I'd like to introduce you to a new auxiliary website entitled Mount Olivet Veterans, with an email address of http://www.mountolivetvets.com. This venture will one day document and showcase all veterans buried within the cemetery, ranging the gauntlet of American History and boasting connections to every armed conflict our country has taken part in.
As many already know, Mount Olivet is considered one of the most distinguished, and beautiful, burial grounds in the country. Meanwhile, it serves as the final resting place for unselfish patriots who bravely served their country under the same flag so proudly hailed in 1814 by fellow cemetery resident and Frederick native, Francis Scott Key.
Of those reposing in Mount Olivet, some veterans died amidst military combat, while others succumbed to wounds and sickness acquired in the line of duty. The vast majority came back home from the battlefields and lived out full lives dedicated to family and professional pursuits. Most returned with the full understanding that freedom is not necessarily free, as great sacrifices are made to protect that freedom.
The new website can best be described as "a work in progress," and will continually be added to. We humbly ask for the assistance of descendants, historians and friends to provide us with photographs and/or additional information of note. We also want to link to other sources of information regarding our vets, and the training and battles they participated in.
As opposed to a finished publication like a book, we will have the opportunity to add supplemental images and information at will, while also having the ability to correct errors and misnomers. We hope this site provides an educational and informational portal, one that sheds light on why Frederick, Maryland has always been linked to patriotism and the American flag.
We have a large challenge ahead, but are excited to provide this site on behalf of the cemetery operation and the newly created Mount Olivet Preservation and Enhancement Fund, an IRS accredited 501(c)3 non profit, with fiduciary oversight to be handled by the Community Foundation of Frederick County.
Our starting point with the website will involve World War I, as we are currently within the centennial commemoration. The launch of this site occurs in November, 2017 with an eye looking towards next November, 2018. Our goal is to compile veteran profiles on nearly 500 soldiers, marines and sailors linked to "the Great War." We want to complete this task by Armistice Day (November 11th) of 2018, at which time we hope to have a large-scale, public commemorative event to usher in the 100th anniversary of the end of the war.
In the meantime, I will be busy researching World War I veterans buried here in the cemetery. The goal is to introduce an average of 20 or so of these veterans through the website on a biweekly (every other week) schedule. The order of release on the site will be tied to death week/date anniversary. Our first batch of veterans includes the weeks November 11-17, November 18-24, and November 25-December 1.
Our secondary role for the website (behind adding archival information and photographs) is bringing attention to old gravestones and markers within the cemetery. We have the opportunity to work with families and fellow history groups to clean and/or make necessary repairs to grave monuments and markers. This is particularly true of graves associated with veterans of earlier conflicts than later. Some of these are unreadable due to the effects of pollution and acid rain. Others have toppled due to ground shift and the lacking of proper underground foundations.
We also would like to see special commemorative medallions signifying graves without military issue markers, and trees planted in the honor of servicemen. These, as well, are the aims of the new Mount Olivet Preservation and Enhancement Fund.
The sky is the limit, and we hope to garner the support of interested descendants and others interested in our veterans at rest here in Mount Olivet. That said, we would like to provide future commemorative events and programming, enhanced tourist experiences along with the formentioned added documentation to the cemetery history archives/websites, monument repair and special plantings.
The Mount Olivet Veterans website is currently quite sparse as it only includes inventory records associated with World War I participants. Next year, we hope to tackle Civil War soldiers and beyond in an effort to have all Mount Olivet veterans represented on the site. Future plans include the French and Indian War, American Revolution, War of 1812, Mexican-American War, Spanish-American War, World War II, Korea, Vietnam and Desert Storm, etc.
Below is a friendly link to the new Mount Olivet Veterans website. Let us know your thoughts...and as the highway construction signs always say: "Please Pardon our Progress" as we continue to strengthen Mount Olivet's history records, while making the grounds look even better.