Ceremony honors United States Colored Troops who died in civil bar battle

Posted at 3:48 PM, Dec 15, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-16 16:03:58-05

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — December 15th marks the 155th anniversary of a critical Civil War battle, and thousands of troops were remembered for making the ultimate sacrifice.

More than 2,000 United States Colored Troops are buried at Nashville's National Cemetery.

"It’s important to remember who came before us, the ancestors who paid the cost of freedom, so that we can have the rights that we enjoy today," Gary Burke said, "African Americans paid the price of Freedom."

Gary Burke has a personal connection to this day in history.

"I’m the great great grandson of private Peter Bailey, the 17th United States Color Troop regiment," Burke said, "Every time I pass a headstone, I try to salute to remember their sacrifice for fighting the fight for freedom."

Burke has been coming to the cemetery, in union army attire, to pay his respects for a decade.

"Ultimately, 10,133 African American men served for the Union Army in the great state of Tennessee," Burke said, "It’s an emotional re-connection every year to remember those who came before us. It’s an honor, and a duty, to serve them for what they’ve done."

A monument in the cemetery is a reminder of the lives that were lost.

Burke said, "So we’re not doomed to repeat what happened in the past, and for the younger generation to know what happened."