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Knoxville National Cemetery crop
Knoxville National Cemetery

A team of UT scholars is researching the stories of veterans interred at Knoxville National Cemetery. Their work will form the basis of a book, digital resources, teaching materials, cemetery guides, and a series of public programs.

The UT Department of History recently received a $77,799 grant from the US Department of Veterans Affairs National Cemetery Administration to support the work through the Veterans Legacy Program.

The program pairs universities with local school systems to produce educational materials and public outreach programs about local national cemeteries, telling the individual stories of veterans and their service. The grant is one of nine awarded nationwide.

“The goal of this project will be to help our students and the surrounding community better appreciate the central role that these cemeteries have played in honoring veterans and providing the wider community with a site for reflection and shared public memory,” said Vejas Liulevicius, Distinguished Professor in the Humanities and director of the Center for the Study of War and Society.

The project is a partnership between the center, which is based in UT’s Department of History; the East Tennessee Historical Society; and the Knoxville History Project. Liulevicius and Ernest Freeberg, head of the Department of History, are co-leaders.

Four undergraduate history students—Alexis Lyden, Will Oaks, Alex Heaton, and Andrew Shorten—already have begun research on veterans buried with honors in the cemetery.

“I find it important for our veterans’ stories to live on through future generations so that we understand their sacrifices made in the name of our country,” Shorten said.

Knoxville’s cemetery is one of the nation’s oldest. It was established by Union Major General Ambrose Burnside during the Civil War following the siege of Knoxville and the Battle of Fort Sanders. Veterans from every US conflict since are buried there.

The UT team will work with Katherine Petko, teacher in residence at the East Tennessee Historical Society, to produce lesson plans for use in Knox County Schools. The plans include a series geared toward social science teachers in fifth grade through high school, with an emphasis on Civil War themes and research skills.

As part of the collaboration, the Knoxville History Project will produce and distribute an illustrated history of the cemetery in book form and as a digital resource. A condensed version will be available as a cemetery guide in booklet form and online.

A series of public programs will include an event at the cemetery in conjunction with Memorial Day, a book launch for the illustrated history, a historical tour of the cemetery, and a day-long seminar in conjunction with Veterans Day. Program details will be announced as they become available.


Vejas Liulevicius (865-974-7320,

Lola Alapo (865-974-3993,