The Story of Charles Graves The Man Who Was Buried Three Times

The Story of Charles Graves
The Man Who Was Buried Three Times

Used by permission from Mike McDougald

"On August 16, 1917 Charles Graves enlisted in the military after having difficulty finding work. He ended up in Neuroy, France, a country whose language he could not read or understand. Charles found himself in the wrong place at the wrong time and was killed by German artillery shrapnel on Hindenburg Line. He was quickly given military honors and lowered into the black soil of France, buried for the first time. The date was October 5, 1918, just 14 months after he volunteered for the war.

Back home in Rome, Charles' mother would receive that terrible telegram from the War Department. She then began the long wait before the U.S. Government would bring his body back to bury him in his native country. Four years later, on the 29th of March, 1922 the huge grey troopship named the CAMBRIA pulled into Brooklyn's harbor to unload the remains of American soldiers being returned from the graveyards of France and Belgium. American sentiment was that something should be done to prevent wars. From there came the idea of a Known and Unknown soldier memorial. An unknown soldier was selected in France and returned to America.

To select the Known Soldier, a sailor was blindfolded and asked to run his hand down a long roster of names of those dead Americans on board the CAMBRIA. His finger stopped on the name of Charles W. Graves of Rome, GA.
All of America was pleased, all but Mrs. Graves. She had waited four long years for the return of her son. He would be buried at Antioch Cemetery on Callier Springs Road and that was that!

After a glorious ceremony and parade in New York City, Charles Graves body was loaded onto a southbound train and a day later it would pull into the East Rome Depot. Rome's son was home. Daniel's Funeral Home handled the arrangements and after a simple but stately ceremony, taps was sounded, and on Thursday, April 6, 1922 Charles Graves body was lowered into the earth for the second time.

No one knew it at the time, but Charles would not stay in this grave for long. There was a growing sentiment that as America's Known Soldier, he should be buried in a place of honor and Myrtle Hill was just the place. Plans for a grand monument were discussed. Charles Mother had since died and permission to move him was received from Charles' brother. The night before a court injunction preventing moving his body, Charles' body was dug up and moved to Myrtle Hill. He was buried for the third time. Now with Charles 'grave moved, no one would object, and on November 11th of that year in 1923 a massive celebration was held to honor Charles and all veterans."
Excerpt from original speech by Mike McDougald
America's Known Soldier Gravesite Renovation Begins. Contact: Tracy Fairel, Greater Rome Convention and Visitors Bureau. 800-444-1834, email

(Rome, GA) - Groundbreaking ceremonies will be held Thursday, April 6, 2000 at 11:00 am for the renovation project of the gravesite of Charles Graves, America's Known Soldier. The project begins exactly seventy-eight (78) years after he was originally laid to rest in Rome, Georgia. Charles Graves was an eighteen-year old Private sent to France in World War I. Graves was killed in the Hindenburg line in 1918 and was buried in France. At the end of the war in 1922, as the last of the troopships were arriving in Brooklyn harbor it was decided that a known soldier would be chosen to be buried beside America's Unknown at Arlington National Cemetery. Charles Graves name was picked at random from the long list of names. Charles would be buried at Arlington and recognized as America's Known Soldier!All of America was pleased. All but Mrs. Graves, Charles' Mother. She had been waiting four long years for the return of her son. She wanted him buried in Rome, GA in the family cemetery. Mrs. Graves got her wish. After an extravagant ceremony in New York City honoring Charles and all of those who gave their life in the "World's War", Charles was returned to Rome, Georgia and laid to rest in Antioch Cemetery on April 6, 1922.A group of Romans, including Charles' brother, felt that Charles should be buried in a place of honor. The night before a court injunction forbidding him to be moved, a group of men exhumed his body and buried him at the foot of Myrtle Hill in the Memorial Plaza. The Myrtle Hill/Oak Hill Memorial Association, a subsidiary of the Rome Area Heritage Foundation, is coordinating the project. The plans are to dedicate a site that is fitting for America's Known Soldier. The groundbreaking ceremony will be held on April 6 with the dedication of the project to follow on Armistice Day, 2000, November 11 at 11:00 am.

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