Of the medal's 104 Civil War recipients with ties to Philadelphia, Waskie and Kelly have so far accounted for the graves of 94. Seven await Medal of Honor markers.
"I get the satisfaction of knowing they have been recognized for their distinguished service and for keeping the Union together," said Waskie, a Temple University language professor, Civil War historian, and author.
For their valor to go unnoted is a historical injustice, he said.
At 10 a.m. Saturday, a day after the nation celebrates Veterans Day, those who fought in all of America's conflicts will be honored by Waskie, Kelly, the General George Meade Society of Philadelphia, and American Legion Post No. 405 of the Union League during a ceremony at Philadelphia's Washington Square. Hundreds of unknown Revolutionary War soldiers are buried at the site.
Waskie and Kelly see them as brothers in arms to the Philadelphia soldiers and sailors so heavily represented among the 1,522 Civil War Medal of Honor recipients. The medal was created and minted in Philadelphia during the war, whose sesquicentennial is being marked.
"I want to draw attention to the men who have slipped through the cracks," said Kelly, of Drexel Hill, a Civil War history aficionado and maintenance worker at Independence National Historical Park. "They received the nation's highest honor and should be remembered."
One of those the pair found was Army First Sgt. Edmund English of the Second New Jersey Infantry. English, a native of Ireland who entered service in Newark, N.J., rallied his comrades during the Battle of the Wilderness in Virginia and turned a rout into victory. His grave at Old Cathedral Cemetery in West Philadelphia awaits a Medal of Honor marker.
English's unit and others were falling back on May 6, 1864, when the sergeant seized and waved the colors.
"Is there nobody to make a stand?" he asked, according to battle accounts. "This is disgraceful!
"Here, boys! Stand here! At least a few of us should stem the tide!"
His bravery was infectious. The retreat ended, and the Confederates were driven back.
Waskie and Kelly are still looking for the grave of Navy Seaman George Moore, who nearly lost his life while rescuing crewmen from the sinking ironclad Monitor during a gale off North Carolina's Cape Hatteras on Dec. 30, 1862.
During another rescue attempt, with giant waves crashing around them, Moore and others were carried 50 miles off the coast, where a schooner picked them up.
Such stories of courage hooked Waskie and Kelly years ago and inspired them to search for the Medal of Honor recipients' final resting spots. Their work is supported by area veterans, heritage, and reenactment groups, which help pay for the embedding of markers provided by the Veterans Administration.
"I have always been interested in the Civil War," said Waskie, of Philadelphia, whose book Philadelphia in the Civil War: Arsenal of the Union was published this year. "I'm a hopeless romantic because I find more interest in the past than ordinary mundane events."
One of Waskie's ancestors was Pvt. George Slusser of the 130th Pennsylvania Regiment, who was wounded at the Battle of Antietam on Sept. 17, 1862.
"When I found out he was my great-great-grandfather, that I had a direct connection, it heightened the intensity of my interest," said Waskie, founder and president of the General Meade Society, formed to preserve the memory of the Civil War hero.
Kelly's interest in the war also was partly sparked by an ancestor. His great-grandfather Pvt. Stewart Henderson was one of the last casualties of the Civil War.
Henderson was wounded in the right knee on April 9, 1865, shortly before Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee surrendered at Appomattox. Henderson died several years later at a soldiers' home in Dayton, Ohio.
"The only thing I have of him is his marriage license," Kelly said. But having an ancestor in the war "made me more acutely sensitive to people who were unrecognized."
Kelly and Waskie hope to recognize Charles McAnally, who was a lieutenant in the 69th Pennsylvania Infantry when he captured an enemy flag and was wounded twice during fighting at Spotsylvania, Va., on May 12, 1864. They are still trying to find his grave.
The graves of four of McAnally's comrades at New Cathedral Cemetery in North Philadelphia will be dedicated at 10 a.m. Saturday by a local group of reenactors who portray the 69th.
This week, Kelly and Waskie decorated the grave of Pvt. John C. Hunterson, a Medal of Honor recipient buried at Old Swedes' Church in Philadelphia's Southwark section.
Hunterson and an engineer officer were on a reconnaissance mission near the Confederate line in Virginia on June 5, 1862, when they came under fire. After the officer's horse was killed, Hunterson gave up his own mount so the officer could escape with valuable information.
The Medal of Honor recipients "distinguished themselves for their courage and stand out from their fellow veterans," Waskie said. "But they're not really all that different from their comrades.
"They represent all of them who served and didn't receive awards for valor."
Contact staff writer Edward Colimore at 856-779-3833 or email@example.com.