Amateur historian's Civil War tour at St. Paul cemetery now history

- St. Paul's Oakland Cemetery was home to Minnesota's first Memorial Day observance back in 1870.
Now a tradition two decades old at that cemetery is coming to a close.

Every Memorial Day at Oakland Cemetery, Pat Hill brings the civil war to life.

But after two decades, the walking tour given by this amateur historian will become history itself.

"I am sad about that, but nothing lasts forever, I guess," said Hill, who grew up in the area and still lives nearby.

After spending a third of his life sharing the stories of what he believes to be the most decorated group of Civil War soldiers in the state, Hill is calling it quits.

He says he'd like to study some other parts of American history and give his aging legs a break from the 2.5 hour annual tradition.

"My knees and my dogs will be happy about that. They'll be happy to end the walks," said Hill.

The cemetery is the final resting place of six governors and President Millard Filmore's half-brother Charles. But it's the five medal of honor recipients from the Civil War buried there that are closest to Hill's heart.

"They made sacrifices for us and it's such a small thing to give a little bit of our time to come and remember what they did for us and show our appreciation," said Hill.

Memorial Day began as a day to remember the soldiers who died in the Civil War.

Hill hopes once he's done, someone else will step up to keep their stories alive.

"What's next for me. Can't really say. Just staying ahead of the bill collectors and doing what I can, " said Hill.

Hill hopes to preserve the Civil War tour in electronic form, so it can be played in the cemetery's chapel every Memorial Day from now on.


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