Crown Hill Cemetery’s 150th Annual Memorial Day Ceremony & Other Ceremonies

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Crown Hill Cemetery’s 150th Annual Memorial Day Ceremony & Other Ceremonies

May 28, 2018 @ 9:00 am - 4:30 pm


(Individual event times noted below)
All ceremony locations will be noted a map to be distributed at the gates on Memorial Day. All ceremonies and the tour are free. The ceremonies will be held in the event of rain but may be relocated to the Crown Hill Funeral Home if necessary. The Gothic Chapel will be open to the public from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. President Lincoln will greet visitors there from 12:30-1:30 p.m. Feel free to bring a picnic and join us all day.

9:00 a.m.-3:30 p.m. – CIVIL WAR CANNON FIRINGS
Listen for the big booms west of the National Cemetery and watch reenactors demonstrate how to fire a cannon!

9:30 a.m. and throughout the day – GATLING GUN & CANNON DEMONSTRATIONS
Beginning at approximately 9:30 am you can visit Mike Marsh and the 1st Wisconsin reenactors as they talk about and demonstrate their Gatling gun. They’ll be located at Richard Gatling’s memorial on the west side of the National Cemetery. Civil War reenactors Mike and Cathy Smith will be firing a large cannon nearby.

President Lincoln

Crown Hill’s historic Gothic Chapel will be open for visitors to enjoy. This beautiful chapel was built in 1875 for $39,000 and was restored in 2004-2005 for $2.5 million. Please stop by and see this priceless treasure, including the custom-built organ! Not to miss! President Lincoln will greet visitors from 12:30-1:30 p.m. and share about his life! Great for all ages! Refreshments will be available right outside the chapel. If you miss Pres. Lincoln in the Gothic, be sure to see him recite the Gettysburg Address during the 2 p.m. ceremony and visit with him afterward. (Note that Crown Hill’s annual Memorial Day Concert and Ceremony will be held behind the Gothic Chapel, on the grounds of the Crown Hill National Cemetery.)

Drummer Boy Eddie Black, Youngest soldier in the Civil War

The Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War will be commemorating the 150th Anniversary of Memorial Day at the gravesite of Eddie Black, a Civil War Drummer Boy buried behind the iconic “Little Girl Statue” of Mary Ella McGinnis on Section 16. In 1861 Edward Black was 8 years old, and though he was too young to fight for the Union Army—combat soldiers were supposed to be at least 18, though many 15-, 16- and 17-year-olds managed to lie their way into service—Edward was permitted to enlist as a drummer boy for the 21st Indiana Volunteer Infantry. Historians believe that made him the youngest soldier to serve in the Civil War. 

You’ll be able to visit with reenactors and learn about what it was like during the Civil War era. To find the location, enter either cemetery entrance and follow the yellow line on the road until you see the orange cones and event signs for the Civil War Memorial Service. The reenactors will be located in the large field. (Times are approximate.)

The Crown Hill Civil War Memorial Service will be held at the Confederate Mound on Section 32 and will be conducted by Civil War reenactors. They’ll honor the 1,616 Confederate fallen at the Confederate Mound (a National Cemetery), then march to the Crown Hill National Cemetery and honor the thousands of Union fallen interred there. To find the location, enter either cemetery entrance and follow the yellow line on the road until you see the orange cones and event signs.

1:30-2:00 p.m. – BAND CONCERT 
Be sure to come early and enjoy the traditional 30-minute patriotic band concert held prior to the main ceremony, performed by the Indiana Army National Guard’s 38th Division Band. The concert will be held at the National Cemetery, located directly behind the historic Gothic Chapel.

2:00-3:00 p.m. – 150th ANNUAL MEMORIAL DAY CEREMONY
Celebrating 150 years! Crown Hill presents the longest-running Memorial Day Ceremony in Indiana! This year marks the 150th Anniversary of our ceremony, first held on May 30, 1868, shortly after General John A. Logan, Commander-in-Chief of the Grand Army of the Republic, established this day to honor the soldiers and sailors who died during the Civil War. With nearly 10,000 people in attendance, our first ceremony was held on the grounds of the Crown Hill National Cemetery, located behind the historic Gothic Chapel. Our first ceremony featured many speeches, including from by Gov. Conrad Baker, a veteran and former commander of an Indiana Infantry Regiment. The graves of the soldiers in the National Cemetery were decorated with fresh-cut flowers.

Governor Eric Holcomb

Administrator Seema Verma

We’re pleased to have two very special speakers this year: ERIC HOLCOMB, Indiana’s 51st Governor, and SEEMA VERMA, the current Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, serving in the Trump Administration. Making a special appearance will be ABRAHAM LINCOLN, our Civil War President, reciting the Gettysburg Address during the ceremony.

We welcome back the support of the men and women of the Indiana Army National Guard as they join us again as they have for many years. In addition to the band concert by the 38th Division Band at 1:30 p.m., a Howitzer 21-gun salute will be conducted by the Indiana Army National Guard (pictured below). Patriotic music provided by throughout the ceremony by “The Central Sound,” a Lawrence Central High School choir. Folding chairs will be available or feel free to bring your own chair or blanket. Cookies and bottled water will also be available, as well as indoor restrooms. You’re welcome to arrive early or stay late to picnic. (The funeral home and cemetery office closes at 5 p.m. but the gates will remain open until 8:00 p.m.)

3:00 p.m. (approximately) – “VETERANS” WALKING TOUR
You’re invited to take a free 1-hour guided walking tour of historic Crown Hill Cemetery immediately following the ceremony featuring the graves of soldiers who lost their lives in battle. This interesting tour will be led by Tom Davis, an expert Crown Hill Tour Guide. Included on his tour will be the grave of the last soldier buried in the National Cemetery, an airman killed in action in Vietnam.

Feel free to come and spend the day with us. In addition to the Civil War Equipment Display by the Confederate Mound on Section 32, there will be Gatling Gun demonstrations at Richard Gatling’s memorial (on the western edge of the National Cemetery), as well as other Civil War cannons by the National Cemeteries. 

If you would like to see a list of all of our 2018 Events & Public Tours on one page, please visit the Heritage Foundation’s Tour & Event PAGE.


Crown Hill Funeral Home, Cemetery and Heritage Foundation


Crown Hill Cemetery
700 W. 38th St.
Indianapolis, IN 46208 United States
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(317) 925-3800

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