Walt Whitman Turns 200

walt whitman birthday

Walt Whitman was born on May 31, 1819 and this year is his 200th birthday. He was buried at our very own Harleigh Cemetery in Camden, New Jersey on March 30, 1892. Today we honor and celebrate his life and what he meant to this country.

Life and Legacy

Whitman was born in Huntington, NY, and was the second of nine children. He is best known for Leaves of Grass, a collection of poetry which went through six editions and nine successive printings between 1855 and 1892. Walt Whitman’s work allowed readers to question what they knew about their country, war, sexuality, and religion. He was not afraid to speak on topics that were considered immoral, and was eventually know as the “poet of democracy”. Today, his work is available in multiple languages and is a celebrated masterpiece.

Why We Celebrate

Walt Whitman sparked new ideas and ways of thinking about the world through his work. His courage was an inspiration and is still celebrated today. This is why we honor his life and how his work affected the nation over 150 years ago. His influence can still be felt today.

Source: About Walt Whitman

Louis Cicalese, cemetery trustee in New Jersey is president of the board of the historic Harleigh Cemetery and serves as an advisor to a number of non-profit cemetery organizations in New Jersey.

What is a Burial Vault?

burial vault

Though you can’t see them above ground, a burial vault is an option many opt for when planning for their eternal resting place. A burial vault encases the casket, protecting it from heavy machinery used in cemeteries, and of course, the earth above it.


Burial vaults benefit both the family of the deceased and the cemetery grounds. Over time, a casket may buckle under the weight of the ground and decay. This causes the ground above it to sink, which can be unsettling to family members visiting deceased relatives. Burial vaults help prevent this, keeping the grounds pristine for visitation.


These enclosures are made of wood, brick, metal, fiberglass or concrete and have been used since the 19th century to prevent grave theft. Since then, they have become a popular burial option to help ensure the ground does not sink at the gravesite.


There is a misconception that vaults are sealed and air tight. This would cause the vault to rupture and fail as pressure builds from decomposition gasses. A vault does not seal the casket, but rather it acts as a strong encasement that protects the casket.

Louis Cicalese, cemetery trustee in New Jersey is president of the board of the historic Harleigh Cemetery and serves as an advisor to a number of non-profit cemetery organizations in New Jersey.

Well-Known People Buried at Harleigh Cemetery in Camden, New Jersey

Walt Whitman

Harleigh Cemetery is a magnificent historic cemetery and crematory located in Collingswood and Camden, New Jersey.  Established in 1885 and set on over 150 acres with rolling hills, lakes, and thousands of trees, it is the final resting place for hundreds of venerated individuals. Here are a few graves to visit to pay your respects.

Walt Whitman

Poet and author of acclaimed “Leaves of Grass”, Walt Whitman took great care in designing his final resting place and is visited by many each year. Whitman is remembered for his contributions to literature as the father of free verse and as a transcendentalist.

Walt Whitman
Walt Whitman’s grave at Harleigh Cemetery

George C. Burling

As a Union Army officer in the Civil War, George C. Burling was instrumental in the Battle of Gettysburg. He organized several militias and his contributions to the army are longlasting. Burling is buried among several other Civil War heroes.

Charlie Rice

American Jazz drummer Charlie Rice played among Jazz’s most prominent stars, including John Coltrane, Eddie “Lockjaw” Davis, and Chet Baker. Rice was born in Philadelphia at a time when Jazz was spreading like wildfire across the country. He died at the age of 98 in 2018.

Ella Reeve Bloor

Also known as “Mother Bloor”, she was a rebellious political organizer born in 1862. She was instrumental in the women’s suffrage movement and was a prolific essayist in the socialist, labor, and communist movements.

Nick Virgilio

The reason many Americans know the poetry form, Haiku, is likely to Nick Virgilio’s credit. Virgilio popularized the Japanese poetry style throughout the twentieth century and was often featured on radio shows. His famous poem “Lily” is engraved on his headstone. Learn more about Nick Virgilio.

Louis Cicalese, cemetery trustee in New Jersey is president of the board of the historic Harleigh Cemetery and serves as an advisor to a number of non-profit cemetery organizations in New Jersey.

Four Ways to Honor Veterans on Memorial Day

old veteran standing behind american flag at memorial day ceremony

Each May, we take time to reflect on what it means to be an American, especially the sacrifices that enable us to live in the land of the free. The heroic soldiers that have given their lives for the United States of America are not forgotten, and Memorial Day is a testament to the honor these soldiers rightfully deserve. Here are five ways to observe Memorial Day by honoring veterans.

  1. Attend Camden County Veterans Cemetery memorial service at Harleigh Cemetery

Each year, the Veterans Cemetery at Harleigh Cemetery in Camden, New Jersey holds a memorial service honoring those who gave the ultimate sacrifice. Veterans are given medals in reverence for their service. Attending this event or another near you shows your support for the men and women who have died in defending freedom.

  1. Reach out to veterans you know to thank them for their service

While some veterans prefer not to discuss their time in the military for their own personal reasons, reaching out to veterans you know to say a simple thank you says a lot. To civilians, it’s hard to understand the true sacrifice made fighting for America, and acknowledging that sacrifice on Memorial Day is an act of kindness that can go a long way.

  1. Share veterans’ stories on social media

Many of us have family members who have died at war. Sharing their stories on social media, or simply hitting that share button on another’s story reminds us all what it really means to serve. By telling their stories, we keep their memory alive.

  1. Donate to a veteran’s charity

Many veterans rely on organizations to help them make ends meet, especially when the effects of war have marred them physically or psychologically. Here are a few charities that benefit veterans:

  • Special Operations Warrior Foundation
  • Wounded Warrior Project
  • Semper Fi Fund
  • Fisher House Foundation

Louis Cicalese, cemetery trustee in New Jersey is president of the board of the historic Harleigh Cemetery and serves as an advisor to a number of non-profit cemetery organizations in New Jersey.

Harleigh Cemetery Honors the Lives and Sacrifice of Veterans for Memorial Day

For Memorial Day, Camden County’s Harleigh Cemetery will honor the courageous men and women lost while making the ultimate sacrifice for the United States of America.

CAMDEN, N. J. (PRWEB) May 20, 2019 – Harleigh Cemetery will honor the lives of the brave men and women of the armed forces who made the ultimate sacrifice at the annual Memorial Day service organized by the Camden County Freeholder Board. The service will honor the lives of the heroes lost and pay respect to the families of the fallen, showing gratitude for the selfless sacrifices both the families and the fallen have given serving with the United States military.

The cemetery itself provides families and visitors a peaceful, historical and beautiful environment to remember and honor the lives of their loved ones. Harleigh Cemetery overlooks the Cooper River and stands as one of the most respected cemeteries in the region due to its natural beauty and historical prominence. Harleigh Cemetery established the Veterans Cemetery on the grounds which was dedicated in 2007 by Camden County. As one of the oldest cemeteries in New Jersey, it was listed on the New Jersey Register of Historic places in 1995. The Veterans Cemetery at Harleigh is the final resting place for hundreds of fallen soldiers, including 300 civil war veterans.

This annual memorial service is important to the community, families, and the soldiers who lost treasured friends and fellow soldiers. On the service, Louis Cicalese, President of the Harleigh Cemetery Board of Trustees says, “Establishing a dedicated burial ground and proper resting place for the lives lost while making the greatest sacrifice for our country is something that the board and county is committed to”, said Cicalese. “We proudly serve the families and community of Camden County.”

During the memorial service, veterans will receive medals in reverence for their courageous service.

About Harleigh Cemetery
Harleigh Cemetery was established in 1885 and is the final resting place to hundreds of veterans, including 300 Civil War veterans. The cemetery is also the resting place of acclaimed poet, Walt Whitman. It’s located on over 150 acres of land that features lakes, hills and thousands of beautiful trees. In 2000, Louis Cicalese, owner of Cemetery Development Company, Inc. was appointed to the Board of the Harleigh Cemetery Association, becoming the youngest to hold the position in the cemetery’s 100-year history.

Louis Cicalese

View original release on PRWeb.