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  • Mark Coyne

Last Week in the Cemetery (Week of May 29)

Posted May 29, 2023 by M.S. Coyne

There was a lot going on in African Cemetery No. 2 for Memorial Day Weekend. The end of May and the beginning of June are when we make our big push to spruce up the cemetery so it looks its best for Memorial Day and Juneteenth Festivities. The end of May was very dry and the cemetery, though still green, was starting to look a little parched.

(From the Front Gates Looking North) (Gates Decorated for Memorial Day)

There is an annual flag placement for all veterans buried in African Cemetery No.2 that occurs on the Saturday before Memorial Day. Military graves are marked by Irises (Iris spp.), which is a very old tradition. There are several non-military markers that also have Irises. This is because these veterans chose to use a personal marker, but we have their military service records.

(New USCT Markers Ready For Juneteenth)

This year we also participated in Taps Across America at 3:00 pm on Memorial Day. At this hour, across the United States wherever veterans are buried, a bugler will play Taps in their honor. Hoe ‘N Hope Garden Club of Lexington gathered at the Memorial Marker in front and provided a bugler for the event.

(Taps Across America: 3:00 pm May 29)

At the end of the week we were visited by Oliver Lewis’s descendants of Cincinnati OH. Oliver Lewis won the 1st Kentucky Derby in 1875 and one of the most interesting stories in the cemetery is how the late Anne Butler of Kentucky State University tracked down his relations, who were unaware how significant their relation was to the Thoroughbred Racing Industry. Their visit followed a morning information session at Keeneland Library where Ms. Yvonne Giles shared the information she has gathered about Oliver Lewis, his racing career, and his subsequent career post racing.

(Oliver Lewis’s Descendants Visit)

In landscaping news we also have a permanent woodchip pile courtesy of Town Branch Tree Experts that is available to the public for gardening. It is located at the back of the cemetery in front of our

nursery area and debris pile. Wood chips are a vital landscaping component of the cemetery because we use them around our new plantings - particularly our new trees - to suppress weeds, protect them from accidental weeding and mowing, conserve moisture, and provide a few extra nutrients.

(Woodchip Pile)

Remember, if you or your group would like to contribute a few hours of service maintaining African Cemetery No. 2 in 2023, please contact Mark Coyne at to plan a visit.

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