LOCUST DALE, Va. — The blue and gray patch worn by all Soldiers in the 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team signifies the unity between military units of the North and South combined under one name for World War I – the 29th Infantry Division. The patch served as a reminder to Soldiers that they were once adversaries on the battlefield but are now bonded together to fight as one. The goal for the Journey Through Hallowed Ground Partnership’s Living Legacy Tree Planting Project is to honor every Civil War Soldier from the North and South who were killed in battle by planting a tree in their name.
Infantrymen and senior leaders from the 116th IBCT participated in a dedication ceremony for the Journey Through Hallowed Ground Partnership’s Living Legacy Tree Planting Project April 12, 2015, at the Inn at Meander Plantation in Locust Dale, Virginia.
“This project is very worthwhile and is a huge undertaking to honor Civil War Soldiers. It shows our current Soldiers that they will never be forgotten,” said commander of the 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, Col. William Coffin. “Our 116th predecessors were involved in the Battle of Cedar Mountain making us a great fit to participate in this ceremony. We thank Cate Magennis Wyatt and her staff for inviting us to be a part of this remembrance.”
Coffin was one of a few speakers to honor fallen Civil War Soldiers during the ceremony. He joined keynote speaker, University of Georgia Hall of Fame Coach Vince Dooley, along with representatives from the Sons of Confederate Veterans, the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War, the Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States, as well as the United Daughters of the Confederacy-Virginia Division for the remembrance ceremony.
Starting the day, a platoon of infantrymen from Charlottesville-based Company A, 3rd Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team along with Command Sgt. Maj. Thomas Yancey planted 200 Rising Sun Redbud trees for the ceremony.
The location is significant because Maj. Gen. Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson led troops across the property on their way to the Battle of Cedar Mountain where approximately 3,700 Soldiers died on both sides.
In addition, local students and area scouts contributed to the day’s success. Elementary through middle school students from Locust Grove and Ruckersville researched individual Soldier stories and shared those stories with those in attendance, while boy scouts joined the Soldiers from the 116th in planting the trees.
“This is a monumental occasion for us. We couldn’t be more thrilled to have today’s Soldiers help us reflect and remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice. And to bring ancestors from both sides of the conflict together to pay tribute to each life is extra special,” said Journey Through Hallowed Ground President Cate Magennis Wyatt.
Trees planted as part of the Living Legacy Project will eventually stretch along the Journey Through Hallowed Ground National Scenic Byway, a 180-mile swath of land that runs from Gettysburg, Pa to Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello in Charlottesville, Va.
The project is an effort to plant one tree for each of the 620,000 Soldiers who died during the Civil War. Each tree is geo-tagged and placed on an interactive online map.