Since I returned to art 2 1/2 years ago, it has become my tradition to sketch at Tahoma VA National Cemetery, or another memorial location, on Memorial Day and Veterans Day. It is my way of both remembering and honoring the sacrifice of our military servicemembers. I went out today as it is likely to be raining tomorrow. I would also prefer to avoid the crowds that will be there on Memorial Day. It is in Kent, WA, not far from where I live.
Listed on the website is one of the notable burials: Medal of Honor Recipient Second Lieutenant Jesse T. Barrick (Civil War), 57th Regiment of the U.S. Colored Infantry. Near Duck River, Tenn., May 26 – June 2. I made his marker the subject of my sketch today.
In looking up more information about him, I found this outstanding chronicle, which is the caption for a photo. It is well worth the read. It describes his life and service and how a group of veterans and their friends found his unmarked grave and had him moved to the VA Cemetery. He is the only Civil War veteran there. Like the author of this article, I assumed he was a Black officer, since he served in the “Colored Infantry”. But he was not.
There were two men working there today. They were replacing flag pole holders removed during the renovation of this part of the cemetery. They want to finish today so the will be flags all along the Memorial Drive for tomorrow. One of them told me “there are always flowers on that grave”. I made a note to myself to bring some next year, to place there and on other graves.
On the reverse of Lt Barrick’s marker is one for his wife. She enlisted as well and served as an Army Nurse. However, her burial spot was never found so she is not interred there.
I also went looking for another “notable burial” listed on the Cemetery website. The area was being renovated, so I will plan to sketch this next year, when it will look better.
Sergeant First Class Nathan Ross Chapman — first American serviceman to die from hostile fire in the war in Afghanistan in 2002. Sergeant Chapman was a communications specialist with the 1st Special Forces Group at Fort Lewis, Wash.
The addition of the red flag marks the grave of a soldier killed in action (KIA). Looking over this section of the Cemetery, there were not very many of them. Nearly any veteran of the military may be buried at a VA Cemetery, so many are interred there when they die later in life.