I can imagine no more rewarding a career. And any man who may be asked in this century what he did to make his life worthwhile, I think can respond with a good deal of pride and satisfaction: I served in the United States Navy. John F. Kennedy
Who We Remember
From the Revolutionary War to present day conflicts, our veterans are devoted sons and daughters, fathers and mothers, sisters and brothers. They come from all backgrounds and placed their lives on the line for our freedoms. There are more than 26,000 heroes buried in Beaufort National Cemetery. Each one should be recognized for their service and remembered for their sacrifice to our country. Each year thousands of wreaths are purchased and placed on headstones but too many are not covered. You can sponsor a wreath in honor of or in memory of an American hero and help us remember every hero buried in Beaufort National Cemetery.
Where We Remember
Located on Boundary Street in Beaufort's Historic District, Beaufort National Cemetery's first veterans buried here were men who died in nearby Union hospitals during the Civil War following the Battle of Port Royal. Battlefield casualties also buried in the cemetery, include more than 100 Confederate soldiers and 27 Union soldiers. Beaufort National Cemetery was created with the National Cemetery Act by Abraham Lincoln in 1863.
Two medal of honor recipients are buried in Beaufort National Cemetery:
Private First Class Ralph H. Johnson (Vietnam). Ralph Johnson was born in Charleston, South Carolina, on January 11, 1949. He enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserves in March 1967, and thereafter, the regular USMC, to fight in the Vietnam War. On March 5, 1968, PFC Johnson and his patrol, overlooking the Quan Duc Valley, were attacked by enemy forces. Johnson threw himself on a grenade and warned his comrades; actions that prevented the enemy from advancing and saved the life of a fellow marine. PFC Johnson received the Medal of Honor posthumously. The Charleston VA Medical Center was renamed for him in September 1991, and the navy named a destroyer (U.S.S. Ralph Johnson DDG 114) after him in 2015. Johnson's remains were interred in Beaufort National Cemetery in March 1970, in Section 3, Site 21.
Captain John James McGinty III (Vietnam). McGinty was born in Boston in 1940, and he enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps after graduating from high school. In 1966, McGinty began a tour of duty in Vietnam. On July 18, attacked by the North Vietnamese and severely wounded in the left eye, he saved the lives of dozens of men. McGinty received the Medal of Honor from President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1968. Later, as a born-again Christian, a faith that rejects idolatry, he chose to not display the medal because it features the image of Minerva. Captain McGinty retired in 1976 and worked at the VA Medical Center in San Diego, California. He died January 17, 2014, and is buried in Section D, Site 703.
Beaufort National Cemetery now has interments from every major American conflict, including the Spanish–American War, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, and the Gulf War. In 1989, the remains of nineteen Union soldiers of the all black Massachusetts 55th Volunteer Infantry were buried in Beaufort with full military honors. The Massachusetts 55th had been stationed on Folly Island and was a sister unit to the better-known Massachusetts 54th Volunteer Infantry, featured in the film Glory.
Beaufort National Cemetery was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1997.
How We Teach
Wreaths Across America Beaufort's mission touches the lives of thousands of school, scout, civic and religious groups across the county through fundraising for wreath sponsorships. These groups help us ensure that we reach our goal to place a wreath on each hero’s grave. Because of Parris Island, Marine Corps Air Station and the US Naval Hospital, Beaufort is blessed with a community of strong support, respect and reverence for our military. Such support, respect and reverence must be taught and passed along to each generation so they don't forget. Coming together in December for the ceremony at Beaufort National Cemetery is the culmination of the previous year's hard work of education the public, increasing awareness of the event and building community support in sponsorships and purchases of wreaths. We teach by doing, living by a code of understanding what it means to be an American, valuing the freedoms we have and understanding that generations of men and women have answered the call to duty, fought and died for those freedoms. It is now our turn to honor their service and sacrifice with a wreath on each grave for the holidays.