4th of July celebrations include tribute to captured soldiers

'An Avenue of Flags' highlight the Andersonville National Cemetery for prisoners of war. / Jessica Fairley

For this Fourth of July and the 150 Anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg, many traveled to the Andersonville National Cemetery to remember those who fought for independence.

Staff at the National Prisoner of War Museum held a presentation informing visitors about the experiences and fate of soldiers held captive during the Civil War battle. Many of those soldiers who fought at Gettysburg ended up at the prisoner of war camp in Andersonville.

On this Independence Day holiday, organizers at the National Andersonville Prisoner of War Museum decorated the cemetery with "An Avenue of Flags" that lined the streets where thousands of soldiers are buried.

Families toured the cemetery and remembered those that risked their lives for freedom.

"A lot of my family was in the military so we just came out to see. I also have a grandfather who was a prisoner of war, so we came to see kind of what he endured," said Crissy Churchwell.

Although Crissy Churchwell's grandfather wasn't in the Civil War, the images of the Andersonville site gave her an idea of life in a prison camp. Information about disease and the lack of clean water painted a clear picture.

"There was a little creek that came through the prison but it wasn't any kind of roaring river fast enough to brush out dirt and filth because the prisoners did use it as their lavatory," said Heather Clancy, National Prisoner of War Museum intern.

As Churchwell viewed the museum, she couldn't help but think about the story of how her grandfather escaped captivity.

"They all leaned over with their shirts off and spelled P.O.W and so when the plane flew over that's how they were rescued," said Crissy Churchwell.

Jack May, a veteran of World War II, also visited the museum for this Fourth of July Holiday. For him, celebrating the Fourth of July is a way of remembering the past and those close to him who paid the ultimate price for freedom.

"I had a brother that was killed in the war. He was a navigator on a B-24 and he got killed one week before the war ended but I served my time," said Jack May, World War II Veteran.

Jack May and Crissy Churchwell both say this Independence Day celebration is about acknowledging the men and women who are still fighting to secure our independence.