Tuesday, July 4, 2017
Since we were driving through Troy, NY on July 3rd, it was only appropriate that we stop by Oakwood Cemetery and pay our respects to Uncle Sam himself.
One version of the song "Yankee Doodle" mentions Uncle Sam ("a real live nephew of my Uncle Sam, born on the 4th of July. . ."), but as with many folk songs, there is a long history and many alternate versions and lyrics, that change with the times and reflect the political climate du jour.
However, the Samuel Wilson that is laid to rest in this cemetery was a meat packer from the town of Troy, and his name is widely considered to be the source of the Uncle Sam character that symbolizes patriotism. He was an appointed meat inspector during the War of 1812, and when a barrel of meat was approved to be sent to the troops, it was marked "E.A. -U. S.". The E.A stood for Elbert Anderson, the meat supplier, and the U.S. stood for the United States. Many of these barrels were sent to the troops in Greenbush, NY, and many of those soldiers stationed there were from Troy. They knew of Samuel Wilson, and his affiliation with the fresh meat they were receiving, and over time, anything else that was marked with those initials became linked with his name.
The cemetery is bigger than it looks at first glance, but the way to Uncle Sam's grave is well marked and easy to follow. And if you're into cemeteries, or trivia, or visiting obscure tourist attractions, it is listed on Atlas Obscura. It was an interesting little tidbit of American history, and the perfect way to begin our 4th of July celebration.
On the actual 4th of July, we headed over to the New Hampshire Farm Museum for an old-fashioned celebration. It was kind of perfect actually, because the museum is home to the world's longest toboggan sled, and the sled is named Uncle Sam. Then we headed home for the usual fanfare.
I hope everyone enjoyed the 4th of July!