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The National Cemetery and Reconciliation

Though intended as a form of punishment for Confederate atrocities, Salisbury National Cemetery was instead a witness to reconciliation between the sections. The Federal Monument dominates the landscape of the National Cemetery but the graves of American veterans from across the country clearly overwhelm its initial power. The Massachusetts and Maine memorials honored those who died in the prison without arguing for Confederate intent. The state memorials, built in the first decade of the twentieth century, were emblematic of the desire to continue remembering prisons but end War Guilt. Across the hills of Salisbury, the thousands of American—defined as neither Northern nor Southern—soldiers who are buried in the National Cemetery have joined the thousands more who died at Salisbury prison. This combination creates a new atmosphere; no longer accusatory, but now of reunion and a shared sorrow. Visitors do not need to be from a particular section of the country to understand the loss at Salisbury. The dead cry out from across the nation to be remembered.