The SAR Magazine

Winter 2018

The SAR MAGAZINE is the official quarterly publication of the National Society of the Sons of the American Revolution published quarterly.

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Page 14 of 47

WINTER 2017 13 WINTER 2018 15 By Joe Farrell, Joe Farley & Lawrence Knorr "Poor is the nation having no heroes; shameful the one that having them, forgets." W e came upon this expression when working on our Keystone Tombstones–Civil War Edition in 2013 and used it in the book's introduction. We have visited many graves over the past years as we wrote and released 10 volumes of Keystone Tombstones and two volumes of Gotham Graves, all published by Sunbury Press, Inc. We started in Pennsylvania, visiting the graves of famous or noteworthy people. We typically take pictures of the gravesites and then write a biography including interesting or lesser-known stories about the individuals. More recently, we branched into New York City with the latter series. Two of our favorites to talk about in our many appearances are Ben Franklin, who is buried in Philadelphia, and Alexander Hamilton, who is buried in Manhattan. Both men are appropriately memorialized with well-maintained, popular gravesites. As we finished our most recent book, Gotham Graves– Volume Two, we had the idea of doing a similar book or books covering our nation's Founding Fathers. Visiting their graves and writing short biographies seemed like an exciting project, especially with our country's 250th birthday approaching. Our initial debate was about the scope, given the dispersal of the gravesites and the potential number of subjects. Should we include only signers of the Declaration of Independence or Constitution? What about the generals? What about other contributors to the Revolution? While our list is still in flux, we have, for now, settled on signers of either the Continental Association, Declaration of Independence, Articles of Confederation or the Constitution, plus other famous or noteworthy Patriots. To date, we have listed more than 200 and have personally visited about one- third of the sites. So far, we have made trips covering New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, Georgia, Virginia and the District of Columbia, visiting and photographing graves of our founders. These field trips have been exciting and rewarding in many cases, but also shocking and shameful in others. We have found Patriots in bucolic country cemeteries and gritty urban settings. We have found great well-maintained monuments, and others overgrown, weedy, disheveled and broken. We have found Patriots under the floors of churches and under parking lots. We have found them on great plantations and in the middle of soybean fields. While many of our founders' graves are known, many are also uncertain, lost or forgotten. In fact, there are even some missing bodies! George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James Monroe, Alexander Hamilton, Caesar Rodney (assuming he's actually buried there!) and Button Gwinnett all have fitting, well-maintained and accessible graves. (We were a little surprised, however, that a visit to Jefferson's grave cost $25, though we managed to talk our way into free tickets—we did not have time to tour all of Monticello.) Unfortunately, these are the exceptions rather than the rule. We would be remiss if we did not acknowledge the past efforts of the Daughters and the Sons of the American Revolution in honoring most of the 200-plus sites we are visiting. We have come upon many plaques donated by a DAR or an SAR chapter in honor of a Patriot, some from 1926 and others from 1976. In many cases, these plaques are the only legible markers. The typical gravesite is a weather-beaten stone of modest size, Graves of Our Founders: A CALL TO ACTION Chase headstones

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