The forgotten place where bravery rests

8:40 PM, May 30, 2010   |    comments
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 By Mike Bush

 (KSDK)-Even on a hot spring day, you can feel the chill.


"It's a very historic place, " says visitor Brant Douglas.


Courage rests here.


"If you look at the bottom line. This is the bottom line that defines us,  " says Alton's Richard Baird.


This is one of the smallest national cemeteries in the country, just a half acre of green grass and white stone in Alton, Illinois. It may be much smaller than Arlington or Jefferson Barracks but no less important.


"The culmination of one persons efforts is equal to the culmination of another persons efforts, " says Baird.


Baird comes here every day. A Vietnam veteran, he's made it his mission to learn and care for the more than 500 heroes whose stories are buried beneath this sacred ground.


"This is living history. We help create history by coming here we're creating history, " explains Baird.


Amid the small army of tombstones are soldiers from as far back as the Mexican-American and Civil Wars up to the Vietnam War.


Brant Douglas is here trying to capture history's shadows for his journalism class. In the air, he hears whispers of pride.


"Mothers who know their sons and their daughters fought for our freedom, "says Douglas.


The silent reverence here says more than most can put into words but Richard Baird was moved to poetry.


He recites:


"Spirits of freedom collecting dust on the pages of history. Lasting memorials, erected stone, scripted verse where weeds had once grown. Silent voices, eternally bound. From the steeple to the graveyard and then back around."


A humble piece of land where freedom is etched in stone.

Alton National Cemetery, the forgotten place that should always be remembered.




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