By Anne Eickstadt

ANNE EICKSTADT PHOTO Belvidere Republican
The 4-H Grasshoppers decorate the graves of veterans with flowers and flags.


Sunday, May 19, saw wind and a burst of rain but the precipitation stopped before the 2 p.m. scheduled start of the Grasshopper Sweet Clover 4-H Club’s annual Memorial Day celebration at Lawrenceville Cemetery. The chairs had been set up in the morning, taken down and reset indoors before the rain, then reset at the cemetery once again before the ceremony. The cemetery, located on Russellville Road just off Lawrenceville Road, Garden Prairie, holds the final resting sites of military men from wars dating back to the Revolutionary War.

Each year, the Sunday before Memorial Day weekend, the Boone County 4-H Sweet Clover Grasshoppers form a parade to march through the cemetery, planting flags at each Veteran’s grave and laying flowers by their headstones.

The Grasshoppers moved reverently through the cemetery to honor the Veterans with flowers and flags set at each veteran resting place. Lee Gardner and Marty Deardorff were there to grace us with the song America the Beautiful.

“The Gettysburg Address is always given by an outstanding 4-H-er,” said master of ceremonies Gary Turner as he introduced Miss Jenna Mogines to do the reading.

“Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

“Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

“But, in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate—we cannot consecrate—we can not hallow—this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.” – Abraham Lincoln

Turner then introduced Reverend Jim Bell to give a speech.

Rev. Bell spoke of Battle of Gettysburg, which involved the largest number of casualties (51,000) of the entire war. The South would give their dead battlefield burials and bury the soldiers where they had died. These shallow graves were unsanitary and impractical for all intents and purposes. The North would collect their fallen and bury them with markers. The Battle at Gettysburg took place in July 1863. It took until March of the following year to complete the burials of Northern soldiers. It took somewhat longer to dig…

For complete article, pick up the May 23 Belvidere Republican.

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