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Civil War veterans buried in Unity Cemetery honored

Brian F. Henry | Tribune-Review - Navy veteran John Gipson of Penn Hills visits the grave of his great-great grandfather Henry Gipson at Unity Cemetery in Unity Township on Saturday, November 9, 2013. Henry Gipson is a Civil War veteran who served in the 142nd Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry from August 26, 1862, through May 5, 1863, then re-enlisted as a member of the 11th Pennsylvania Regiment on February 10, 1864, through July 1, 1865.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Brian F. Henry | Tribune-Review</em></div>Navy veteran John Gipson of Penn Hills visits the grave of his great-great grandfather Henry Gipson  at Unity Cemetery in Unity Township on Saturday, November 9, 2013. Henry Gipson is a Civil War veteran who served in the 142nd Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry from August 26, 1862, through May 5, 1863, then re-enlisted as a member of the 11th Pennsylvania Regiment on February 10, 1864, through July 1, 1865.
Brian F. Henry | Tribune-Review - Portraying a soldier of the Union Army during the American Civil War, Bret Albaugh of New Alexandria plays taps during a memorial service on Saturday, Nov. 9, 2013, honoring the Civil War veterans interred in Unity Cemetery near Latrobe.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Brian F. Henry | Tribune-Review</em></div>Portraying a soldier of the Union Army during the American Civil War, Bret Albaugh of New Alexandria plays taps during a memorial service on Saturday, Nov. 9, 2013, honoring the Civil War veterans interred in Unity Cemetery near Latrobe.

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Saturday, Nov. 9, 2013, 7:11 p.m.
 

There are 145 Union Army veterans buried in Unity Cemetery in Unity, said Mary Lou Townsend, president of the Latrobe Area Historical Society

Members of the community gathered on Saturday to honor them at Unity Chapel, where they heard Civil War-era music performed by the 11th Regimental Band and opening remarks from Townsend, who serves on the Unity Cemetery Association.

“Our purpose today is to honor the 145 Union veterans — and we do have one Confederate — buried here in Unity Cemetery ... who enlisted during the Civil War and went on to preserve the Union,” Townsend said.

There are Civil War veterans buried in cemeteries throughout Westmoreland County, according to Lisa Hays, executive director of the Westmoreland County Historical Society.

Hays and the society are working to preserve the stories of those veterans.

The Latrobe Area and Westmoreland County historical societies presented Saturday's event as part of a series of events that mark the 150th anniversary of the Civil War and the Westmoreland County soldiers who served.

“We wanted to do some things to commemorate (the anniversary),” Hays said.

The first event of the series was held in May at St. Clair Cemetery, where Civil War veteran and Westmoreland County native Richard Coulter Sr. is buried, Hays said. She added that the historical society plans to host several more events for the series.

The audience sang the national hymn, “God of Our Fathers,” and the Rev. Clark Kerr led a memorial meditation, during which he asked the audience to meditate on the words of H.S. Washburn's “The Vacant Chair” as the band performed George F. Root's accompanying music. The crowd also sang “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” and participated in a responsive reading of the Gettysburg Address.

Historian Alfred Young spoke about the 53rd Pennsylvania Infantry, and the band performed the iconic taps.

After the ceremony, attendees were guided to various Civil War veteran grave sites, where volunteers and some students from Latrobe Area High School's history class discussed the background of the individuals who gave their lives in battle. Attendees were given handouts which listed all of the veterans buried in Unity Cemetery, including their accomplishments and bits of their histories.

South Greensburg resident Bruce Blackson was very appreciative of the opportunity to attend such a moving ceremony, as he recently learned one of his ancestors, Robert Blackson, is buried in Unity Cemetery.

“There are just no words to describe it,” he said.

For more information about the Westmoreland County Historical Society's series of Civil War events, visit www.westmorelandhistory.org.

Nicole Chynoweth is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-850-2862 or nchynoweth@tribweb.com.

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