Preserving the past: The history of Loudon Park National Cemetery


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An iron fence surrounds the rows of headstones of Loudon Park National Cemetery in Maryland and formal cast-iron gates stand as centurions at the entrance. The two-story folk Victorian lodge, built in the 1890s, is a stalwart reminder of the cemetery’s past, a past that is as much a part of Baltimore’s history as it is America’s history.

Loudon Park National Cemetery, now a VA national cemetery and historical site, was originally a military cemetery established in 1862 during the Civil War. Most of its first interments came from nearby Baltimore hospitals and prisons, such as Fort McHenry. Baltimore played a modest but tangentially connected part in America’s Civil War. Despite being located less than 100 miles from the nation’s capital, no major Civil War battles occurred in Baltimore. However, as a major port city and home of the B&O railroad, it was a key transportation center during the war.

Loudon Park National Cemetery is a place that tells the story of our country’s past, and it’s a story that continues to this day. A report from the inspector of national cemeteries in 1871 cited 1,789 total interments; among them 139 “rebel soldiers, prisoners of war” who died at Fort McHenry. While today this cemetery is closed for interments, the National Cemetery Administration (NCA) protects, preserves and maintains the site, along with hundreds of other VA national cemeteries across the nation, as a part of our sacred trust.

“The mission of the National Cemetery Administration is to provide final resting places for families and to commemorate the service and sacrifice of our Veterans,” said Ron Walters, the National Cemetery Administration’s acting under secretary.

For many who work at NCA, this mission is one that goes beyond just a sense of duty and responsibility. Shawn Graham, a public affairs specialist, explains the care of Veterans, even ones interred hundreds of years ago, is part of a personal mission for him.

“We take care of Veterans from the beginning of their enlistment until we inter them into the earth,” he said. “These people gave a part of their lives. Whether they did two or 30 years, they gave a part of their lives in service to their country. It’s a noble mission. That means a lot to me.”

Recently, service members from the Defense Information School at Fort Meade, Maryland visited Loudon Park National Cemetery to tell the story of what they learned and why the sacred trust of NCA is such a historical, and deeply American, mission.

For more videos from the DINFOS students, and videos about VA national cemeteries, check out the National Cemetery Administration’s YouTube playlist. Loudon Park National Cemetery is supervised by Baltimore National Cemetery.


Image of Jessica TozerJessica L. Tozer, a U.S. Army Veteran (2002-2006), is the web communications officer and digital services lead for VA’s National Cemetery Administration. She was a communications specialist and content manager for the Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate from 2015-2016. From 2011-2015 she was the social media content manager and editor-in-chief for Armed with Science, the Department of Defense science and technology blog. She is a lifelong science fiction fan and a huge supporter of the Veteran community.

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Comments

  1. Jim Bailey    

    We hear so much about what VA is doing wrong, this is the kind of story we need to be telling across the Nation about what they are doing right for our Veterans. Thank you so much from a 28 year Veteran.

  2. K Silvia    

    Lovely and touching youtube on Loudon Cemetery BUT, you missed the amazing valor saturated and sacred grounds (under 6 acres and 5 CMOH recipients buried there). There are several Congressional Medal of Honor buried there – World War I mostly. You don’t see them right away because they are mixed inbetween others interred who fought for this nation during The War of 1812 – our 2d “War of Independence.” Soldiers marched past Baltimore just prior to the burning of DC back in the early 1800s. Fighting against the invading British – some came as far as Massachusetts, Philadelphia, and New York!

    An honor to watch your PA video….

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