Who’s Got Button’s Bones?

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By the time the crowd gathered in Colonial Cemetery that October day in 1964, the shouting and tumult had all but died. Savannah was satisfied that it had its man, and it wanted to commemorate him in a dignified manner. Lined up near the new monument were representatives of the Georgia chapters of the Sons of the Revolution, the Daughters of the American Revolution, the Society of Colonial Wars, and the Colonial Dames of America, each with a flag. The crowd listened respectfully as Thomas H. Gignilliat, chairman of the Savannah-Chatham County Historic Site and Monument Commission, spoke of those who had made the ceremony possible. All bowed their heads as the Reverend Allie W. Frazier, Jr., of Christ Church, gave the invocation. There were chuckles as Dr. Joseph E. Fields of Joliet, Illinois, a leading collector of manuscripts, said, “We no longer need to ask, ‘Button, Button, who has the Button?’ Button has been found.” Those present then gazed with pride on the gleaming monument as Arthur Funk climaxed his triumph by unveiling a bronze tablet which read, in part, B UTTON G WINNETT … S IGNER OF THE D ECLARATION OF I NDEPENDENCE … W HOSE REMAINS, BURIED IN THIS CEMETERY, ARE BELIEVED TO LIE ENTOMBED HEREUNDER … Finally, Taps was sounded, a detail of R.O.T.C. cadets from Savannah High School fired three volleys into the air, and the crowd departed, leaving the dead of Colonial Cemetery—including Button Gwinnett—once more in peace.