Tom Decosimo: My Great-Great-Grandparents Are Buried At The Confederate Cemetery - And Response

Monday, August 21, 2017

To Mayor Berke,

I cannot add any more to the very fine comments made in opposition to your empty jester to remove the city as a trustee of the Confederate Cemetery.

I can, however, add some personal perspective as my great-great-grandparents are buried there.
Penelope McDermott Cooke was a Daughter of the Confederacy and was concerned the remains of the Confederates who had died of their wounds were washing away with the Spring floods. The soldiers had been carelessly buried in the flood plain. Penelope (1830-1875) worked tirelessly with her fellow Daughters to establish and design a remarkable Cemetery.

Certainly those women did not personally know any of those young soldiers. That did not deter them however from lovingly re-interring each soldier to a resting place of honor. Penelope died, I have heard say, of exhaustion working to make the Cemetery a reality. She is buried there with her husband, Col. James Burch Cooke (1819-1899), founder of the Tennessee 59th Volunteer Infantry, State Supreme Court Justice, State Senator, and business and civic leader.

Penelope and Col. Cooke are buried in this sacred place as an honor to their service to the hundreds of soldiers they never knew.

Can you imagine the incredible effort that went into establishing the Confederate Cemetery? We should hold the Cemetery up as all that is good with Chattanooga.

Tom Decosimo 

* * * 

As a student of history I want to thank Mr. Decisimo for his posting regarding the Third Street Cemetery. 

This recent public act by a politician just shows what length people will go to in pandering to an assumed constituency. 

Let me remind Mr. Berke that not only are the loved ones of Mr. Decisimo buried there, many of the Gardenhire family are resting there as well. The Gardenhires of the Nineteenth Century were Democrats and some were Confederates. My neighbor of the 1950s, Mrs. Estelle Gardenhire was a member of the Daughters of the Confederacy and an active member of Mr. Berke's party. 

My family were Union on both sides but I respect the remains of the deceased far more than political correctness or past differences. 

All this makes me wonder as the political winds shift and America changes, if someday our descendants will be watching as today's cemeteries are abandoned or allowed to be parceled for development. 

Ralph Miller


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