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REST IN PEACE

In 1909, a request was made to move the remains of Richard Kirkland from the family plot to the Quaker Cemetery in Camden. This was mostly suggested as his original place of rest was becoming overgrown. The notion of giving him a more prestigious burial so that others could honor him was granted. A large stone was sculpted and engraved to mark the final resting place of the one they had called an angel.

His tombstone reads: "Richard Kirkland, CSA, who at the Battle of Fredericksburg risked his life to carry water to wounded and dying enemies and at the Battle of Chickamauga laid down his life for his country."

As you can see people leave canteens at the site in tribute. Additional shrines to Richard Kirkland include a memorial fountain that was financed by school children in 1910 and of course the monument here in Fredericksburg. In 1965, this piece was sculpted by the famous artist Felix DeWeldon and unveiled in front of the stone wall on the Fredericksburg battlefield where Kirkland performed his humanitarian act. The inscription on the statue reads: "At the risk of his life, this American soldier of sublime compassion brought water to his wounded foes at Fredericksburg. The fighting men on both sides of the line called him the Angel of Marye's Heights."
SPACER

TRIBUTE

So here we are tonight, living in the crossroads of the Civil War, standing just a few miles from the spot where a young man performed an extraordinary act of humanity. We have a library full of tributes and accolades recalling the event and elevating the man who performed with grace, and compassion - courage and selflessness. Some are embellished, others are not.

We also have a magnificent monument testifying to the best and worst of man. And shelves of souvenirs and paintings that depict this remarkably encouraging moment that will be forever frozen in time. Most importantly, we have the collective memory of a young man who was able to rise above the madness of war and extend a helping hand to those who were not 'really' his enemy.

In closing, I would like to quote an excerpt from a poem about Richard Kirkland that was penned by Walter Clark in 1908:

"Like Daniel of old in the lion's den,
He walked through the murderous air
No touch or tear his gray-clad form,
For the hand of God was there"

"And I am sure in the Book of Gold,
Where the blessed angel writes
He wrote that day with his shining pen
The Angel of Marye's Heights"

We can see that this man's memory is worthy of the myth and that his was a life that certainly touched Fredericksburg (and beyond) during the Civil War. It is a story that touched me, and I certainly hope that it touched you too. Thank you.