The News Courier in Athens, Alabama


June 26, 2013

Hundreds sign up for Grand Illumination

VICKSBURG, Miss. (AP) — More than 300 people have volunteered to place nearly 20,000 luminary bags at monuments and memorials inside and outside the boundaries of the Vicksburg National Military Park on July 3, and more are being sought.

The Grand Illumination to honor soldiers killed during the Vicksburg Campaign will consist of at least 100 white and yellow lights at each state monument.

At least 100 luminary bags will be placed at every state monument under care of the park including those on along Confederate Avenue and at Grant's Canal near Delta, La., said Bess Averett, executive director of Friends of Vicksburg National Military Park and Campaign.

"There are four on Confederate Avenue and then one at Grant's Canal," she said.

The luminaries will be on display from 6 p.m. until 10 p.m. July 3 in honor of the surrender of Vicksburg.

"We want everyone to really come out and participate and see it," she said. "This is not something we are going to do again anytime soon."

Many luminary bags will be yellow to denote that the home state of a particular soldier killed in battle is unknown, she said. The yellow bags came about when researchers were unable to discover casualties by state for Florida, Kansas, and Rhode Island, Averett said.

"They have been digging all year trying to get everybody where they belong," she said.

During the campaign for Vicksburg, Union and Confederate forces lost 19,233 soldiers, but records of the dead were not kept by state, she said.

"We didn't want to lessen the representation of those states, so no one will have fewer than 100 lights," Averett said.

Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan and Minnesota all had fewer than 100 casualties, and added luminaries will represent soldiers whose home state was unknown.

"We also have another 1,100 that are unaccounted for, and those are going to be in entrance to the park and near the National Cemetery," she said.

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