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Dramatic Reading at John P. Sinclair's Grave Dedication -- October 2009

by J. Wesley Benedict of Port Huron, Michigan 1872 amended May 30,1894

 We have met in the camp where our heroes are resting,
Who stood by that flag that floats o’re their graves,
Though their faces are hid we shall never forget them,
Nor our voices keep silent in accents of praise.  

How ready and willing when the nation was calling,
They put on the armor, the union to save,
Though the storm clouds of fire, that round them were raging,
They fought, bled, and died, neath our flag that still waves.  

Their deeds so heroic, in effulgence are shinning,
To their names all immortal, pure homage we bring,
In tokens of honor, we have gathered together,
To strew o’re their graves the flowers of spring.  

No power on earth can awake them to battle,
They have conquered through death the greatest of foes,
They suffer no more from earth’s trials and conflicts,
In these graves they are taking the final repose.  

Here victory and peace in silence commingles,
Here beauty and fragrance doth richly abound,
Here! Here! Lie the martyrs who will ne’er be forgotten,
In these dark lonely cells ‘neath these grass covered mounds.  

Go cover their tombs with sweetest of flowers,
Come sing o’er these loved ones. Your requiems low,
May we feel in our hearts pure gratitude flowing,
For those heroes who died with their face to the foe.  

How many in prison under vandal oppression,
Found death by starvation, their only relief,
We can freely forgive; but never forget them,
Whose cruelty doubled our burden of grief.  

Aye! Well can America boast of her freedom,
Unequaled in liberty, wealth, and renown,
She was bought with a price that equals her value,
It’s the lives of our heroes in the graves we stand round.  

May Peace like the Sun, shine over our nation,
And hope and prosperity,lighten the gloom,
Till the glorious reunion in the eternal Kingdom,
Where all shall awake from earth’s sorrowing tomb.  

Amended 22 years later

The years have fled by like a bird on the wing,
And our comrades grown aged, and gray,
They are fast passing over to join the dead heroes,
Where no one can tell the Blue from the Gray.  

The once mighty army’s chieftains: departed!
Together with many, as true and as brave,
Our memory still clings to their names and their Glory,
Tho absent they speak to us from the grave.  

Fraternity sounds the glad word of Reunion,
And comrades, greet comrades like brothers again,
God bless the grand army, of this mighty nation,
True patriots, staunch heroes, and bravest of men.  

Leave a place in your hearts, young men of our nation,
For these loyal old comrades, who are meeting today,
They will soon cross the river to join the great army,
Where suffering and trials, have all passed away.

Poem Read at Sgt. Sinclair's Grave Dedication
October 19, 2009

                        Your tombstone stands among the rest,
                        Neglected and alone                        
                        The name and date are chiseled out,                        
                        On polished marble stone.
                        It reaches out to all who care,                        
                        It is too late to mourn.                        
                        You did not know that I exist,                        
                        You died and I was born.                          

                        Yet each of us are cells of you,                        
                        In flesh, in blood, in bone.                        
                        Our blood contracts and beats a pulse                        
                        Entirely not our own.  
                       Dear ancestor, the place you filled                        
                       Over a hundred years ago,                        
                       Spreads out among the ones you left                        
                       Who would have loved you so.                          

                       I wonder if you lived and loved.                        
                       I wonder if you knew,                        
                       That someday I would find this spot,                        
                       And come to visit you.

Dedication Ceremony

COMMANDER:    Camp, Attention.   Parade Rest!    

Brothers, we have met here as sons of Union veterans of the Civil War to consign to that house prepared for all the living, the memory of a soldier of this country, John P. Sinclair.  The march of this soldier is long over yet he is not forgotten.  Let us remember Comrade Sinclair here at this marker reminding us of his life and his sacrifice.  Here under the blue skies of heaven, guarded by the silent stars that in life watched over him when he bivouaced on the battlefields of lay down weary and foot-sore on the soil of the southland or behind the prison walls. 

May we, as we stand here by this grave, remember that it is our duty, as sons of Union veterans of the Civil War to honor the memory of the men who stood shoulder to shoulder on the bloody fields of battle, who guarded so faithfully, so honestly and so well the sacred bonds of statehood and who fought for liberty and the dear old flag.  They have passed away to their final review and upon us has devolved by sacred right of heritage the duty of perpetuating the principles for which they fought.  May we not forget, as the years roll on, that we too shall have battles to fight, that in time we too shall be carried to the silent city of the dead and that our lives here should but fit us for the great bivouac of eternity.                                      

The Chaplain will invoke the divine blessing.
CHAPLAIN:    God of battles and peace.  Ruler of the destinies of countries and of men.  In this silent camping ground of the dead we come before thee asking thy blessing as we honor the memory of this defender of our country's honor, John P. Sinclair.  Wilt thou in thy infinite tenderness comfort those who mourn him. Wilt thou speak words of comfort and consolation to their sorrowing hearts.  Look in mercy, we pray thee, upon the widows and orphans of deceased veterans everywhere. Bless and save from every evil the country for which this soldier and our fathers fought. Preserve it in purity and integrity. Bless the members of this order as they have gathered here in response to the call of love and duty, to perform these rites of remembrance over one of our nation's preservers, and at last grant that we may all meet before thy throne and to thy name shall we ascribe praise both now and forever, amen.  

ALL Respond:   

COMMANDER:    As we remember John let us cherish his example as a patriot and defender of those principles he believed to be right. Let us forget his failings, for he was human, remembering only his virtues.   His dedication to his country was great, let us remember these attributes.  Let us so live that when the time shall come those we may leave behind may say above our graves, "Here lies the body of a true hearted, brave and earnest defender of the Republic!"

Officer of the Day, let the Guard of Honor set up the symbol of the Army and let a soldier be detailed to guard it.    

(A musket with fixed bayonet, canteen and haversack hanging from it, knapsack leaning against the stock, is set up against the monument.  A soldier in full uniform, armed with a musket with fixed bayonet, stands guard.)

On behalf of the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War, I give this tribute, a symbol of an undying love for the comrades of the War. 


Symbol of purity, we offer at the lowly grave, a rose.  May future generations emulate the unselfish devotion of even the lowliest of our heroes.

Last token of affection from the sons of comrades in arms, we crown these remains with the symbol of victory!    

On behalf of the grand republic for whose integrity and unity our late comrade, Sergeant John P. Sinclair, offerred his services during the war of rebellion, I deposit this flag.                                            

It seems well we should leave comrade John P. Sinclair to rest in honor where over him will bend the arching sky, as it did in great love when he pitched his tent, or lay down, weary and footsore, by the way or on the battlefield for an hour's sleep.  Aa he was then so he is still - in the hands of the heavenly father.  Let us also then remember him and those other honored dead who did not return to hearth and home, but lie in resting places known but to God.                                                                                       


The Unknown Dead

Above their rest there is no sound of weeping,
Only the voice of song-birds thrills the air.
Unknown their graves, yet they are in God's keeping,
There are none missing from his tender care.  

He knows each hallowed mound, and at his pleasure
Marshalls  the sentinels of earth and sky. 
O'er their repose kind nature heaps her treasure,
Fanned by soft winds which 'round them gently sigh.   

Bravely they laid their all upon the altar,
Counting as naught the sacrifice and pain,
Theirs but to do and die without a falter ---
Ours to enjoy the victory and the gain.   

They are not lost; that only which was mortal lies
'Neath the turf o'er arched by Southern skies;
Deathless they wait beyond the heavenly portal,
In that fair land where valor never dies.  

In the grat heart of coming generations
Their fame shall live, their glory never cease;
Even when comes to all earth's troubles nations 
God's perfect gift of universal peace.

CHAPLAIN:   He that loses his life for my sake shall find it.  

COMMANDER:   Attention  

CANNON SALUTE.  (All brothers should remain at attention until salute is completed.)  

Present arms  


CHAPLAIN:   May the blessing of God Almighty, Father, Son and Holy Ghost and the  grace of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, rest upon and abide with us forever. Amen.  

Our service of dedication is ended.  In the name of the Robert FinchH Camp NO. 14, Department of  Michigan, Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War, I thank you for your courtesy in permitting us who are bound by special ties to them to honor our dead.

Taps are sounded,                                                
Lights are out,                                                            
The soldier sleeps.