Memorial Day & The American Civil War

Tombstone at Santa Fe’s National Cemetery from the Battle of Glorieta.

Memorial Day is observed annually on the last Monday in May. In Santa Fe and throughout the rest of the country ceremonies take place to honor our fallen veterans. American flags and flowers are placed at gravesites to commemorate the men and women who valiantly gave of their lives to ensure our nation’s freedom. The tradition of Memorial Day began after the American Civil War in 1868. More than 600,000 men who gave their lives during that war. Since that time, it has gone on to include all of the men and women of the armed forces who gave their lives during wartime.

Battle of Glorieta

In New Mexico the Civil War was fought at the Battle of Glorieta Pass in northern New Mexico. The two-day battle began on March 26, 1862 and is known in history as the “Battle of Gettysburg of the West.” Although New Mexico only played a small part in the Civil War, the Santa Fe National Cemetery was created at that time to bury the Union soldiers who died during in the historical battle. The Archdiocese of Santa Fe donated the land to the federal government in 1870. In 1885 the 78 acre burial ground became a national cemetery on Santa Fe’s north side adjacent to Rosario Cemetery. Close to 65,000 soldiers from around the state are buried there.

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