By Justin Scuiletti
Fredericksburg, Va. | As part of a Memorial Day tradition, more than 15,000 luminaries were set up over the weekend at Fredericksburg Battlefield to represent each of the 15,300 Union soldiers from the Civil War buried atop a hill called Marye’s Heights.
In 1862, the Battle of Fredericksburg was fought here. Three years later, the land was purchased by the United States government to bury the fallen. It now belongs to the Fredericksburg National Cemetery, the fourth-largest Civil War burial ground.
The luminary tradition began in 1995 in the footsteps of the Antietam National Battlefield luminary project, which occurs every November. Fredericksburg moved its memorial to the Saturday before each Memorial Day with luminaries placed among the grave markers — instead of the battlefield itself — to honor the men who fought and died there.
This April marked the 150th anniversary of the beginning of the Civil War, a fact not forgotten by Donald Pfanz, staff historian of the Fredericksburg & Spotsylvania National Military Park, which encompasses Fredericksburg Battlefield.
“It forces us to not only look back and look at the consequences of the war for us, but also the sacrifice that so many men made in order to keep this nation free.”