Yesterday, I made my second visit to Greenvale Cemetery located in the village of Fairport, New York. My previous visit had been on the third of June when I began my research into the Civil War soldiers of Perinton and Fairport. As I wandered the well-manicured lawn, I noticed a headstone that had toppled over. A closer look showed that the headstone belonged to Charles E. Moore, a Civil War soldier who had died in service. Charles joined the 108th NY Volunteer Infantry as a drummer boy. Less than one year later, Charles was dead of disease at the tender age of 16.
While I don’t know how Charles’ headstone ended up looking skyward, I can imagine the cause may have been vandalism, as there were 6-8 other headstones in the same vicinity which were lying on the ground. The photo I took on my first visit to Greenvale confirmed that the headstone belonging to this young drummer boy had been upright just a few months before.
I’m not usually one to discuss my views and beliefs in public, but I must say that cemetery vandalism ranks near the top of my list of abhorrent behavior. What difference does it make to the people of today if someone vandalizes a headstone belonging to a boy of yesterday, long dead and seemingly unremembered, when there is so much strife in today’s world?
The fact is that cemetery vandalism is the desecration of more than just a headstone. Headstones serve as symbols of our loved ones. They help us remember our dead. Who has the right to determine that this boy doesn’t deserve to be remembered? By knocking over his headstone, this vandal has tried to desecrate the identity which belongs solely to Charles E. Moore. His headstone is the only way we have to remember him now.
Because Charles was a soldier, his death is all the more poignant to me. He left his home to serve his country. He died of illness before being allowed to experience life. He mourned his fallen comrades in arms even as he himself was mourned just a short time later. Charles earned his identity and, by his service, earned his military headstone. Charles E. Moore deserves to be remembered, and I will ensure that he is.