The Bugler

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Remembering the USS Monitor

On December 29, 2012, NOAA's (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) Monitor National Marine Sanctuary, the U.S. Navy, and the Department of Veterans Affairs dedicated a memorial to commemorate the Civil War ironclad, USS Monitor, and its crew. The USS Monitor memorial, located in Hampton National Cemetery in Hampton, Virginia, honors the iconic vessel that sank in a New Year's Eve storm 150 years ago, carrying 16 crew members to their deaths. The National Marine Sanctuary Foundation paid for the memorial's design and installation at Hampton National Cemetery, which is located near the site of the historic clash between the Virginia and the Monitor. The cemetery's first burials took place in 1862 and the cemetery is among numerous national cemeteries with origins that date to the Civil War.

Photo courtesy of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Discovery of the USS Monitor

It is interesting to read through the history of the discovery of the Monitor and the later recovery effort of parts of the ship on the NOAA website. In 1974 a team from Duke University and the North Carolina Department of History and Archives announced positively that the USS Monitor had been found. The photomosaic of the Monitor's lower hull shows the port armor belt.

This photomosaic is part of the Monitor Collection, NOAA.

The next 28 years were spent exploring and excavating parts of the Monitor and during a joint recovery operation between NOAA and the U.S. Navy, the turret was recovered in 2002 and the remains of two sailors were discovered. According to the NOAA site, "the remains were turned over to the Joint POW-MIA Accounting Command in Hawaii, which is working to try and identify the sailors. To date, no trace of the other 14 missing members of the crew has been found."

The turret breaks the surface for the first time in 140 years. Picture from Aug 6, 2002 logs on NOAA website.

Faces of the USS Monitor

As a very special part of the 150th anniversary celebration, facial reconstructions of the two sailors' remains which were found on the Monitor were made by Louisiana State University's FACES (Forensic Anthropology and Computer Enhancement Services) Lab. Mary Manheim, Director of the FACES Lab stated, "Here at LSU, we work on all kinds of cases, all kinds of projects. Mainly, our job deals with forensic anthropology. We help law enforcement agencies all across the state and country to identify people. Occasionally, we get the opportunity though to work on research projects, which deal with three-dimensional images of persons who are known and those who are unknown." She went on to say, "We don't know all the answers about their (the two sailors) lives, but the reconstruction is a way to bring the past to life, to create something as similar as possible to the original. To see the faces take shape, to go from bone to flesh is very exciting. Our hope is that someone seeing the sculptures may recognize the face as an ancestor." Visit LSU.edu to read more about the project.

Photo from News.Discovery.com.

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