May 31, 2010, Chestertown, MD. — On this Decoration Day in a small graveyard outside of Chestertown it was a time to remember veterans of the civil war with graveside services. Re-enactors portraying the “United States Colored Troops” (USCT) marched into Jane’s Church Cemetery early on the warm Monday while gospel songs filled the morning air. Over by a worn white federally issued tombstone etched with the letters USCT a soldier stood at attention as an officer made remarks to the crowd. Once the minister concluded with a final prayer the troop filed out to Quaker Neck Road. The company, headed by two Civil War Officers in a horse and buggy, paraded to the Chester Cemetery to pay respects there.
This special event, sponsored by the African American Heritage Council of Kent County, honored these veterans and educated the public about the USCT. After the Civil War members of Chestertown’s Grand Army of the Republic Charles Sumner Post faithfully carried out the solemn duty of decorating graves for almost fifty years. Each May 30th the veterans donned their GAR uniforms and headed a parade that included the Women’s Relief Corps, The Calvert Coronet and Oriental Band, several wagons decorated with evergreens and a large number of children. The last veteran of the Sumner post died in 1930.
The African American heritage Council of Kent County, Maryland was founded in 1994 under the leadership of Karen Somerville. The organization focuses on creating cultural awareness and esteem for the rich heritage and contribution of Blacks in Kent County. The organization is to be congratulated for the excellent programming it is offering as it focuses on this mission.