Friend's Day, June 3, 2012

“A soldier cannot leave his post without being properly relieved. Sergeant Theodore M. Guest, you are now relieved. I have the post. Rest in Peace.” 

With these moving words, Commander Norman Wheeler, Sr., concluded the Last Roll Call Ceremony that was held on Sunday June 3, 2012, at Indian Mound Cemetery. 

Under dark, overcast skies that threatened rain, the last Civil War veteran buried at Indian Mound Cemetery was honored. In paying tribute to Sergeant Theodore M. Guest, the Annual Friends Day ceremony also paid homage to all one hundred twenty-four of his fellow Civil War comrades buried here. (continued - click "Read more" to the left)
A sparse audience of about fifty braved the inclement weather to observe a simple but solemn gravesite service performed by a colorful Civil War rifle squad from Sydney Camp 41, Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War (SUVCW), led by Commander Wheeler, and a color guard from Moravia’s Clifford E. Galbraith Memorial Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 7127 led by Commander Thane Benson. 

The contrast in uniforms and flags between those who donned the Blue and Grey and those attired in modern military dress provided color, flair, and also added historic significance to a ceremony that honored the legacy of freedom and unity that wars have bestowed upon our Nation. After a nostalgic but thoughtful address, Assemblyman Gary Finch presented Association President Linda Emerson with a beautiful Commemorative State Flag. 

Other dignitaries present included County Legislature Chairman Steve Cuddeback, Moravia Mayor Gary Mulvaney and Cemetery Trustees Linda Emerson, Richard Zwirn , Don Spaulding, Peter Kelsey, Roger Phillips, who served as program coordinator and Master of Ceremonies, and Frank Foti, program coordinator and keynote speaker. 

Following the placement of a memorial wreath on Guest’s tombstone by President Emerson, and a brief but eloquent address by Commander Wheeler, the rifle squad was called to attention and ordered to fire a salute. After their shots pierced the silence, Jon Velasquez sounded Taps on a military bugle. Reverend Wayne Hampton concluded the ceremony with a meaningful benediction. 

Throughout the service, the Brass Ensemble of Christ United Methodist Church played several selections including The Star-Spangled BannerAmerica the BeautifulThe Navy Hymn, and The Battle Hymn of The Republic. For the prelude they played Beethoven’s Three Equali, an opus performed at the composer’s funeral. Led by Jon Velasquez, the other CUMC musicians were, John and Linda Haight, Jerry Hall, and Wayne Blann. Mr. Haight let the audience in singing The Star-Spangled Banner

Special thanks go to all the Friends of the Cemetery and to Fritz Hess, Chuck Spaulding, Claude Brown, Pete Kelsey, Dale Ackerman, Moravia Fire Department, Village of Moravia, Town of Moravia, Cayuga County Inmate Work Crew, K&M Rentals, Walt and Joanne Dabulewicz, Mrs. Rebecca Burtram and the 8th Grade Kids Corp., Troy Powers, and Paul Roof.

A respectable crowd of about fifty guests attended the ceremony, despite wet weather. Many commented that this was a small inconvenience compared to what their ancestors went through as soldiers.

Indian Mound Cemetery Association President Linda Emerson pauses after placing a wreath at the grave site of Theodore M. Guest, last civil war soldier to be buried at the cemetery.

Members of Sydney Camp 41, SUVCW, fire a salute to Sgt. Theodore M. Guest.

Members of the Brass Ensemble of Moravia's Christ United Methodist Church performed during the ceremony.
Commander Norman E. Wheeler, Sr., of Sydney Camp #41, SUVCW, performs the "Last Roll Call" ceremony in honor of Sgt. Theodore M. Guest

Grave site of Theodore M. Guest, last civil war soldier to be buried at the cemetery.

N.Y. Assemblyman Gary D. Finch, 123rd District, Chaplain Wayne Hampton along with members of Clifford E. Galbraith Memorial VFW Post 7127 and Sydney Post #41, SUVCW, participated in the ceremony to honor Sgt. Theodore M. Guest.

N.Y. Assemblyman Gary D. Finch, 123rd District, presents a New York State flag to Linda Emerson, President of Indian Mound Cemetery Association

Photos by Shirley Foti