Side by Side in Eternity

The Lives Behind Adjacent American Military Graves

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About the Book

Every gravestone in every graveyard has the potential to frame a story far more complex than the dates found upon its surface. It’s common for spouses to be memorialized together as a final affirmation of the vows and commitments made in life, or for bereaved parents to be buried with children who tragically preceded them in death. Close proximity burials of seemingly unrelated figures, though certainly less common, can similarly reveal the complex tales of people who otherwise walked together in life, by choice or by chance. For example, the Confederate burial of Union Col. Robert Gould Shaw was certainly meant as a dishonor—Shaw was buried in an unmarked, low-lying coastal trench alongside the fallen African American members of the 54th Massachusetts Regiment he had commanded at Fort Wagner. After the war, however, the men’s remains were recovered and reinterred—meaningfully, still together—at the newly commissioned Beaufort National Cemetery.
This book explores a dozen unique examples of such side-by-side burials over the course of U.S. History. In each story, the authors begin by describing each of the protagonists’ final chapters, before spooling out the tales and significance of their actual journeys to such interwoven endpoints. The evolution of funerary practices and observances in the United States is interspersed throughout, with a special focus on military honors and burials.

About the Author(s)

Rear Admiral James Robert McNeal, SC, USN (Ret.) graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1986. After six years on active duty in the Supply Corps, he transitioned into the Reserve component, retiring in 2017. He serves as an adjunct professor at the Naval Academy as well as an assistant coach with the Academy’s Sprint Football Team.
J. Eric Smith graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1986, and is also an alumnus of the State University of New York at Albany. Following eleven years of service with the Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program, he transitioned to the nonprofit sector, where he held four CEO positions and maintained a long-standing writing and advisory career. He lives in Sedona, Arizona.

Bibliographic Details

James Robert McNeal and J. Eric Smith
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 175
Bibliographic Info: ca. 60 photos, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2023
pISBN: 978-1-4766-8792-6
eISBN: 978-1-4766-4850-7
Imprint: McFarland