194 Myrtle Street, SW, Rome, GA 30161
The centerpiece of this plaza is the tomb of America’s Known Soldier, Charles Graves, which is guarded by three 1904 water cooled automatic machine guns. A bronze replica of a World War I “Doughboy” also enhances this inspiring site. More than 3,000 engraved bricks honor and memorialize military veterans and civilians for their service to this country in war or peace throughout all of American history.
Charles W. Graves
Charles W. Graves died on the Hindenburg Line in 1918 and was buried in France. Four years later, in 1922, Charles’ body was loaded onto a huge troopship that was bringing bodies home for burial. With this last load of bodies, it was decided that a Known Soldier should be chosen to join the body of the Unknown Soldier for burial at Arlington National Cemetery.
A sailor was blindfolded and asked to run his finger down the long list of “known dead”. His finger stopped at the name of Charles Graves of Rome, Georgia. Mr. Alford Graves and Mrs. Lucy Graves had waited four years for the return of their son’s body. Mrs. Graves wanted him brought home for burial. The War Department agreed to her request, but decided to honor America’s Known Soldier with a parade down Fifth Avenue in New York. Accompanying his flag draped coffin was an honor guard of Admirals, Generals, three Governors, five U.S. Senators, members of Congress, the Secretary of War and the Mayor of New York. President Warren Harding spoke about Charles and the other young men who had paid the ultimate price in the “great war”. On April 6, 1922, Charles was laid to rest in the cemetery at Antioch Church. Charles would not stay in this grave for long. Plans were developed to create a more prominent gravesite in a special memorial garden section of Myrtle Hill Cemetery where no burials had been allowed. After his mother’s death, his brother agreed to move the body to this site. There were Romans who felt his mother’s wishes should be kept. A hearing for a court injunction was set. Late on the night before the hearing, a group of citizens went to Antioch and removed the coffin by lantern light. They brought it to Myrtle Hill and buried it in the place where it is now located. Thus, Charles Graves, America’s Known Soldier, was buried for the third and final time on September 22, 1923.
Nathan Bedford Forrest Monument
Located at the entrance to the plaza, this monument honors General Forrest, a dashing cavalryman and a popular hero of the Civil War. The monument was erected by the United Daughters of the Confederacy to honor Forrest for his role in capturing a Union raiding party led by Colonel Abel Streight in 1863.
Women of the Confederacy Monument
Also located at the entrance to the plaza, this monument is believed to be the first monument in the world to honor the role of women in war. The women of Rome served as nurses to both Union and Confederate soldiers in the many local hospitals. President Theodore Roosevelt dedicated the monument on October 8, 1910. The inscription on the monument was written by Woodrow Wilson.
About Veterans Plaza The plaza was dedicated on Veterans Day in 2000. The Myrtle Hill-Oak Hill Memorial Association, a subsidiary of The Rome Area Heritage Foundation, is dedicated to improving and maintaining the historic Myrtle Hill Cemetery including the memorials located at Veterans Plaza. A wreath-laying ceremony is held annually on Veterans Day at the plaza. Traditionally the event begins at 11 a.m., marking the time when World War I officially ended.