Honoring Spanish Civil War Vets on Memorial Day

May 2, 2020
By and

Memorial Day is the day traditionally set aside to remember Americans who served in the military.  And yet Americans who went to Spain to fight fascism are rarely if ever included in the remembrances on this day.

We would like to change this.

Over the last two years, Canadian volunteers led by Pamela Vivian, with support from several trade unions, have organized remembrance ceremonies in Canadian communities from coast to coast. Over 100 graves were visited last November 11.

Since 2014, volunteers have visited the graves of Lincolns and honored them by putting down a simple white rose.

We would like to invite volunteers to participate this coming Memorial Day. Any time during the month of May is absolutely fine. We have created a database in which we have cataloged the graves of over 400 Lincoln veterans, medical staff, and Americans who fought in other battalions.

This effort began as a contribution to the biographical records of the Lincoln Battalion undertaken by Chris Brooks of ALBA. Information about likely grave sites was obtained from diverse sources such as family members, Ancestry, Findagrave, and newspaper obituaries. The locations of these graves have been georeferenced so they can be located to within a few feet using GPS and GoogleMaps. The geographical extent of the grave is shown in the Figure.

The geographical extent of the known graves and almost every state has a Lincoln veteran buried there.

We would like to see this effort continue on Memorial Day in 2020. To do this, we are asking you to consider visiting the grave of a Lincoln veteran and leaving a flower and/or a flag, as has been traditionally done for all other military dead on Memorial Day. We have available instructions for creating an International Brigade flag which has been left at some gravesites.

If you want specific information as to how to locate a Lincoln’s grave near you, you can contact us at the email addresses below. Many graves have latitudes and longitude information that can be imported to Google Maps on a cell phone application which will take you to within a few feet of the graves.

If you do visit the grave of a Lincoln veteran, we ask that you leave a flower or a flag, take a photo of the gravesite and a selfie at the gravesite and ensure that your camera is enabled to record the location. Then send this information to Nancy or Ray; it will be added to the existing database of known gravesites.

The men and women who joined international effort against fascism in Spain are more and more forgotten. We ask that you consider taking steps to remember them this Memorial Day by visiting their graves.  Many who have done this have found it to be an immensely moving experience. Also, by locating a gravesite, you may have the opportunity to add to the existing biographical information about a Lincoln veteran.

Ray Hoff (captainlaser1@gmail.com) Nancy Phillips (niphilp@aol.com)


5 Responses to “ Honoring Spanish Civil War Vets on Memorial Day ”

  1. Raymond Hoff on May 2, 2020 at 12:04 pm

    Since this article was submitted in February, the COVID situation has changed all our lives.

    We recommend that people only attempt to visit cemeteries where they can maintain a reasonable social distance. As restrictions back off, we know people will be eager to get out and about and we note that cemeteries have remained open throughout the crisis, as social distancing in a cemetery is relatively easy. However, we hope that people who choose to honor the Lincolns will NOT take public transportation to the cemeteries unless they can ensure social distancing.

    Many families have their children home with them during this time. A visit to a Lincoln grave can be very educational to those students. But do so if you have your own car.

    Memorial Day is only one day. But visiting a grave this year, at any time, honors the Vets of the International Brigades. Let’s not forget them.

  2. steve birnbaum on May 23, 2020 at 1:43 pm

    I would like to visit the grave of a veteran. I live in the East Bay near Berkeley Ca.
    Please send me suggestions

  3. Paul Curtin on May 25, 2020 at 8:16 am

    I would be proud to visit the graves in Western New York. One seems near Buffalo, another near Rochester, and a third in the Western Southern Tier.

  4. Christian DeRuiter on June 2, 2020 at 9:52 am

    Emailed to this effect: I am a reenactor of the Abraham Lincoln Battalion and plan to visit Calverton National Cemetery in the weekend after this with Republican IB tri colors, as well as American flags and flowers for whatever ALB vets may be there, along with other vets of American Foreign wars. Could you provide me with the names, so I canlook them up in Find-a-Grave, or even better, if you happen to have their exact locations at ALBA. Thank you and No Pasaran! now more than ever.

  5. Raymond Hoff on September 23, 2020 at 5:32 pm

    Steve, Paul and Christian

    Thanks for offering to visit the graves of the VALB. I have contacted each of you by email.

    We have had a rewarding and surprisingly good response in 2020.