Thursday, April 9, 2009

Los Angeles Veterans Cemetery

At one time it was called the Sawtelle Veterans Cemetery because it was associated with the “Old Soldiers Home,” called Sawtelle, which we would call today the VA Hospital.
I first got wind of this when I began to study a Civil War soldier named Andrew Wheaton who is buried in my cemetery, Sunnyslope, in Corona, California. His obituary said that he died in the Old Soldiers home and was to be transported from Sawtelle to Corona. What is Sawtelle!? The research began.
I became friends with George Wilkinson in Michigan who is a researcher and collector of anything and anybody from the Michigan 4th Regiment of the Civil War. Andrew Wheaton was with this unit and fought for the entire duration of the war. He was involved in some of the bloodiest battles, and was wounded in the right knee at Gettysburg. Wheaton will be portrayed in the next Sunnyslope Stroll that will take place October 25, 2009.
I offered to help George with anything he might need in Southern California. He asked me to photograph the gravestones of some men that were in the 4th Mich. There was special pride in taking these pictures. A good friend went with me. She is organized and persistent; I couldn’t have done it without her. Thanks Kathleen!
In spite of the arrangement of a military cemetery, these men are special individuals who served our country. They are all lined up in military order. Generals next to Privates. Rich next to poor. Some men made something of themselves after the war, others just survived with a military pension. There is a complete life story for each soldier invisibly etched on each stone.
This cemetery has no room for any more soldiers. It is in L.A. very near to the filming of movies and TV. The cemetery is very conscious of picture taking in any form; after all, it is Hollywood! Once I convinced them that we were historians, not film makers, they let us photograph the soldiers.
One interesting note was there was never the letter “J” in the rows. At first we thought it was an oversight, but not in a military graveyard! Finally I asked one of the workers. He said that it was because of the Battle of the Little Big Horn. Custer’s unit was J.
There were two monuments we noticed. One was the Civil War Soldier. Not a word was written on the monument; however the image was worth a thousand words!
A couple other items got my attention. Two dogs are buried here!! (I love dogs.)
. War Dog "Bonus" buried with handler, Charles E. Temple - Ensign USNR, Section 101 Grave 1 Row A. War Dog "Blackout" buried with handler, George Lewis Oshier U.S. Navy/Sergeant U.S. Marine Corps, Section 99 Grave 2 Row A. Although this is no longer permitted, I was thrilled to see that it once was.
Another thing is, my husband and I are interested in black history. I was happy to see that
over 100 Buffalo Soldiers are interred at the Los Angeles National Cemetery. These African American soldiers were members of the 9th, 10th, 24th, and 25th Cavalry during the Civil War.
Finally, Nicholas P. Earp father of Wyatt Earp, Section 13 grave number A-18, We liked this because the Earps are associated with my neck of the woods, the Inland Empire.

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