VICKSBURG, MS (WLBT) - In August 2010, Vicksburg National Military Park cemetery workers, preparing a grave site for a World War II veteran, discovered it was already occupied by a coffin. An adjacent grave site, also thought to be empty, also had a coffin.
These graves were unmarked and there are no records of them. It is estimated there may be two dozen like this.
Michael Madell, the new superintendent of the Vicksburg park, decided to go public trying to identify these graves and the people in them and others buried nearby.
"Because there have been so many years past since this section was actively used, and because nobody has contacted us through those years, we are doubtful that anybody has information or family members. If they do, we would certainly welcome that," Madell said.
The National Park Service is using ground penetrating radar and electrical charges to identify other potential unmarked graves.
Park historian Terry Winschel explained why it is so important to try to identify the graves. "We take our charge of stewardship very seriously, and so when we find a grave that was not recorded, unmarked, we take this a charge to try to identify who this soul is so their resting place is properly marked."
The Vicksburg Military Park and Cemetery has been closed to additional burials since 1961, except for those who made reservations to be buried there prior to that time. It's estimated there are at least 50 reservations still out there.
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