A group of grassroots activists who banded together to
preserve an overrun and forgotten Clarksville cemetery will mark a
milestone in their efforts this month.
The official dedication of the Mount Olive Cemetery, located on
Rollins Drive off Swift Drive, will be at 10 a.m. Aug. 18 with
keynote speaker U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Michael L. Oates, assistant
division commander for operations, 101st Airborne Division.
The dedication ceremony is designed to honor the more than 1,000
graves at the cemetery, including those of veterans from the Civil
War and World War II. Slaves and several of Clarksville's earliest
black elected officials also are believed to be buried at the site.
"I was a soldier for 24 years, and to know we are going to have
the military command of the local Army post to come out and dedicate
a cemetery with the remains of soldiers in — it is very important,"
said Phyllis Smith, a retired combat medic, teacher and member of
the Mount Olive Cemetery Historical Preservation Society board.
"Generally by the time the war is over, people tend to forget
(the veterans). I think the soldiers buried in our cemetery deserve
just as much honor as the soldiers we're sending to fight today,"
The oldest headstone dates back to 1817 and the latest 1958, said
Geneva Bell, executive director of the preservation society.
"People who haven't seen it can see what so many of us care
about," Bell said. "When the day happens, when that day is over
with, I will feel that now Clarksville knows what I know.
"And, that's a big thing."
Bell says the event has generated much interest.
"The community has really come out of the woodwork to help us,"
The group worked for years with the cemetery's private owner,
Robert C. Davis, who agreed to donate the property to the city of
Clarksville. In June, city officials deeded the land to the
Amy Ritchartcan be reached by telephone at 245-0247
or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Originally published August 1, 2005