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Veterans Group Honors Mark Twain, Calls For Peace This Memorial Day

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Gathered at the grave of Mark Twain, A.K.A. Samuel Clemens, a group of Broome County veterans are remembering one of their own.

"He was a veteran... for only two weeks," says Jack Gilroy, President of Veterans For Peace, "As he said, he skedaddled after two weeks, he said 'this is crazy, I'm leaving,' and he took a stage coach to Nevada."

Twain fled the confederacy and began his life as a writer. He would later speak out against the war in the Philippines. Gilroy and the Veterans For Peace say they see Twain as not only a fellow veteran, but a man who shared their vision for a world without war. 

"So, we look at him as probably a good Veteran's For Peace because Veteran's For Peace is opposed to the war, abolishes the war," says Gilroy.

Just down the hill from Mark Twain's grave is the Woodlawn National Cemetery. Over 10,000 veterans from all wars are laid to rest in the national cemetery. These veterans include those who died in combat, from war wounds, and later in life from natural causes, but it's a certain section of the cemetery that Army veteran Larry Evans says is a sobering reminder of the aftermath of war.

Thousands of Civil War casualties are buried in Woodlawn National Cemetery in Elmira.

3,000 gravestones mark the final resting place of Civil War confederate soldiers who died at the prisoner of war camp in Elmira, known as "Hellmira.

"Everybody has to take a look at this and think about it themselves," says Evans.

Buried alongside those confederate prisoners of war are union soldiers. One union soldier, John Evans, is an ancestor of Larry Evans'. John Evans was shot in the arm during the Civil War. His brother George simply never came home and the family never found out what happened to him.

"That's a personal example of what families across the country went through at that time in our history," says Evans.

Evans says he understands there will always be conflict and there will be more wars, but he hopes others take Memorial Day to not only reflect on the lives lost in service, but also on how to move forward with less violence.

"Take that experience and make sure we're not putting new graves over there haphazardly," says Evans.

The Veterans For Peace laid down flowers on various graves in the Woodlawn Cemetery to recognize their fellow veterans.