Sunday, February 10, 2013

Zion Hill Cemetery Columbia, Pennsylvania

Hidden under the route 30 overpass in Columbia, Pennsylvania. Tucked away in a small wooded area, some of the weeds and grass overextend the grave sites. Sadly, this lost memorial garden has had better years before it, but it's a place every American should visit and pay tribute.

Resting below the grounds are the remains of dozens of African-Americans including many who perished in the Civil War. Most of these brave men fought on the Union side with the 54th Massachusetts regiment. The valiant men wanted to prove they were equal to the task of fighting for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. One of these heroic men, Stephen Swails would become the first African-American officer in U.S. history. These courageous troops battled Confederate troops that began to invade the bridge spanning the Susquehanna river between Wrightsville, and Columbia, Pennsylvania.

One of the most famous buried here is Robert Loney. Mr Loney was at one time a conductor on the Underground Railroad. He helped escort escaped slaves across the nearby river. Freedom for African-Americans meant a great deal to Robert. His family was one of the first group of freed slaves. His passion for all men's freedom is evident in the way he would risk his own life in order to help others escape a life of captivity. If he were to be captured by those south of the Mason-Dixon line he could be escorted back into slavery. Robert Loney eventually joined the Union troops and fought along side his friends and neighbors in hopes of bringing freedom to all.

The wooden crosses and memorial stones that scatter the area are a constant reminder for us all to remember those who came before us and fought for the freedoms we all have. The grave site is taken care of by local Boy Scout groups, church leaders, paranormal groups, and Park Rangers. All showing devotion to the brave African-American men and women who endured through hardships most of us could never fathom, yet rose up to defend the freedoms of millions for centuries to come.

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