FREDERICKSBURG, VA — On Saturday, May 27, 2023 the National Park Service will host the 28th annual luminaria at the Fredericksburg National Cemetery. The program runs from 8 pm to 11 pm, and is free to the public. In the event of rain, the luminaria will be moved to Sunday, May 28.
The luminaria honors those who died in the service of this country. Local scouts will light 15,300 candles in the cemetery – one for each grave there. In addition, a bugler will play “Taps” every 30 minutes during the evening as park staff in the cemetery relate stories about some of the soldiers.
The Fredericksburg National Cemetery was established in 1866 and remained open for military burials until 1945. It holds the remains of 15,243 soldiers, sailors and Marines, most of whom died during the Civil War. At least 85% of the graves are unidentified, resulting in over 12,770 unknowns. The annual luminaria has served as a poignant tribute to the fallen since 1996.
The cemetery is located at the intersection of Sunken Road and Lafayette Boulevard. Attendees may park at the University of Mary Washington lot at the corner of William Street and Sunken Road. The Fredericksburg Trolley will provide shuttle service between the parking area and the cemetery. Accessible parking will be available in the visitor center parking lot at 1013 Lafayette Boulevard.
A separate, commemorative ceremony will be held at the Fredericksburg National Cemetery on Memorial Day, Monday, May 29.
Comment: I’m skipping the event this year. I’m still recovering from Covid and, even though this is an open air event, I should not be exposing others to possible infection, especially all the older people who attend these events. Below, Beth Parnicza and long-time NPS historian Frank O’Reilly reflect on the event during a local radio station broadcast. The telling of individual soldier stories by NPS rangers throughout the cemetery is an especially moving part of the evening.