Today, while bouncing around on Digg, I saw this picture, labeled “The Geometry of Death“. It’s basically a shot of a huge cemetery, the headstones all evenly spaced, creating this interesting, yet eerie pattern of straight lines and angles. As soon as I saw this photo it reminded me of a scene I saw almost daily in the town in which I grew up. Beverly National Cemetery is hard to miss if you’ve been through Beverly or Edgewater Park, NJ. I couldn’t possibly count the number of times I had driven, walked, or rode a bicycle around or through it. It didn’t mean much to me in my younger years, but knew to respect the site and those buried there.
Today I realized I didn’t really know a whole lot about the place – how old it was, how many were actually interred there, or if anyone of any particular significance was even buried there. I did some searches and found what I was looking for:
- It’s just under 65 acres
- Opened on one acre in 1863 for the burial of Union Civil War veterans
- Is the site of 48,724 interments
- Listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1997
- Is the final resting place of 4 Medal of Honor recipients
It’s this last point that sent me searching for more. The first name on the list was Edward Clyde Benfold. Benfold was born in New York, but was raised in Haddon Heights, NJ and graduated from Audubon High School. Upon graduation, he joined the Navy and was later deployed to Korea as a Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class. He was killed in action September 5, 1952 and was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor. The amazing part of the story is how we was awarded the Medal. From www.medalofhonor.com:
For gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving in operations against enemy aggressor forces. When his company was subjected to heavy artillery and mortar barrages, followed by a determined assault during the hours of darkness by an enemy force estimated at battalion strength, HC3c. Benfold resolutely moved from position to position in the face of intense hostile fire, treating the wounded and lending words of encouragement. Leaving the protection of his sheltered position to treat the wounded when the platoon area in which he was working was attacked from both the front and rear, he moved forward to an exposed ridge line where he observed 2 marines in a large crater. As he approached the 2 men to determine their condition, an enemy soldier threw 2 grenades into the crater while 2 other enemy charged the position. Picking up a grenade in each hand, HC3c Benfold leaped out of the crater and hurled himself against the on-rushing hostile soldiers, pushing the grenades against their chests and killing both the attackers. Mortally wounded while carrying out this heroic act, HC3c. Benfold, by his great personal valor and resolute spirit of self-sacrifice in the face of almost certain death, was directly responsible for saving the lives of his 2 comrades. His exceptional courage reflects the highest credit upon himself and enhances the finest traditions of the U.S. Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for others.
Amazing stuff. Somehow it makes me proud, happy and sad all at the same time. It’s young men like this that let me sit here and write about this stuff in the safety and security of my own home. For Edward Benfold and the untold others just like him, I am eternally grateful.