Wreaths to Honor- Stones River National Cemetery {Tennessee}

One of our favorite places to go for a walk is at the Stones River National Battlefield. It always provides a quiet and thoughtful experience as we consider the many soldiers that fought here during the American Civil War. Unlike other battlefields that have been preserved, this one has kept the natural wildness of the trees and grasses which is really beautiful.

The battle fought here was one of the bloodiest of the war. Thousands of lives were lost here. The Union won this battle, but only barely, and it proved to be a major turning point in the war. At this point in the war, the Confederates were winning and the Union had suffered some terrible defeats.

Against the odds however, the Union won the battle clearing a path to continue through the South. President Lincoln said that had the Union lost this battle, they most certainly would have lost the war.

It is always humbling to walk through the battlefield and think about this war that forever changed our country and consider the effects of it that we still face today. The cost of persevering the unity of the country was incredibly high, and yet we don’t seem to be any more united as a people as we were then.

We walked through the battlefield and ended up at the national cemetery of this historic battle. We were met with hundreds of wreaths adorning the headstones of the cemetery. Every year, Wreaths Across America lead fundraising programs to put wreaths on every headstone in every national cemetery as a way to honor those who have given everything in the service of the country.

It was a powerful moment seeing the rows and rows of wreaths laid with gratitude to honor those who served. To think about the cemeteries across the country with their own wreaths really gave a powerful image of the bravery of those who died, and the legacy they left behind.

I felt so grateful that the wreaths were still there around the cemetery and that we happened upon them on our walk. It was a humbling and moving experience to see so many honored for their sacrifice, and knowing that they are working to have one placed on every headstone. I went home and got online to buy a wreath and support the movement so that next year, one more soldier is honored with a wreath.

If you would like to learn more about the Stones River National Battlefield and Cemetery, you may be interested in these:

Leaving Pennies at the Stones River National Cemetery

The Battle of Stones River

Thank you for joining me on a walk through the national battlefield and cemetery. May we always remember those that gave us so much.

21 responses to “Wreaths to Honor- Stones River National Cemetery {Tennessee}”

  1. I like the symmetry in your shots of the headstones and wreaths. I wonder what the US would look like today had this battle been lost? Almost certainly not the UNITED States I guess?

    • Thank you, I just loved the rows of wreaths on the white headstone. We would probably be a collection of smaller countries with some really bad blood between them. I think by the end of the Civil War and for years afterwards there was a great animosity between the two sides.

  2. Such a special place to have within reach Meg. If I lived nearby, I’m sure I’d regularly visit to take a breather from all of life’s headaches. The lack of such an outdoor area here where we’ve been living in Tbilisi has been a major downside these last few months. Still, that’s about to change thankfully. What an incredible effort to cover every single headstone with a wreath. I can well imagine how the political atmosphere in the U.S. puts you in a reflective mood, especially in a place as poignant as this.

    • Here’s hoping you have an outdoor place to recharge soon. The political atmosphere really brings the home just how divided as a country we still are. Sometimes as we walk through the battlefield I can’t help but wonder what the current politics would look like if the Union had lost the war. The wreaths all lined up were really beautiful and moving. I don’t know how long they will be there, but I felt so glad to get to see them.

  3. I am so glad you wrote this post, Meg! I was not familiar with this battlefield and now I want to see it. Another trip to Tennessee is definitely in order. I wasn’t familiar with the wreath project either, so I will follow your lead and make a donation to the cause. Thanks for sharing this amazing battlefield with us!

    • Thank you! I had just recently heard about the wreath project and so I was thrilled to see it at the cemetery. Yay for another trip to Tennessee in the plans! 🙂 It’s really been an interesting place for Civil War history as it was right on the dividing line of the two sides.

  4. I learned some more about Civil War history in reading your post. I wonder what those soldiers, who gave the ultimate sacrifice, would be thinking today, with our country so divided. Thanks for sharing this, Meg.

    • I think they would be absolutely heart broken to see where the politics have taken us as a country. I know it causes me much heart ache to watch it. These Civil War sites really seem to bring home just how divided we still are.

  5. So sad Meg isn’t it, and still so many lives lost in this day and age. I like a wander through a cemetry and try and imagine the person I’m reading about. My husband also shares my interest in cemetries. I’ve just started watching 1883 seems good so far.

  6. I couldn’t agree more about how it is a humbling experience to walk through a battlefield and reflect on events from the past that helped shape our history. It’s always good to remember.

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