SULPHUR SPRINGS -- A Memorial Day ceremony was held at 3 p.m. Monday, May 29, at the Grand Army of the Republic (G.A.R.) Cemetery on Skyline Drive in Sulphur Springs.
Russell Pennington, secretary-treasurer of the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War, General James B. McPherson Camp #1, welcomed guests and explained that the SUVCW is a successor to the Grand Army of the Republic and has the mandate to honor all veterans. It was organized in 1881 as a fraternal auxiliary for lineal descendants, carrying on the GAR's traditions and memory.
Gary Johnson and Brenna Drindak, a member of the Daughters of Union Veterans of the Civil War, placed a red, white and blue memorial wreath at the entrance of the cemetery, at the base of one of the three flagpoles donated by the Eldred family in May 1997. Members of the Eldred family are caretakers of the cemetery, which contains the graves of several Civil War veterans and a Civil War nurse, as well as veterans from World Wars I and II, the Korean War, Vietnam, and the First Gulf War. It also has the gravesite of the only Medal of Honor winner buried in Benton County.
Shane Weber, mayor of Sulphur Springs, was the speaker for the ceremony. He expressed gratitude to the soldiers who gave their lives in battle, particularly because many did not volunteer for service but were conscripted. He also thanked the families of the fallen for their sacrifices, saying, "No number of medals and ribbons can heal the hurt" of losing a loved one in war.
Weber thanked the Civil War re-enactors who participated in the service and all who attended, saying their presence was a tribute to lost troops and their families.
"We remember. We won't forget," he said, and concluded, "A hero never truly dies until the last time his name is spoken."
The SUVCW honor guard members loaded their muskets and fired a salute to end the ceremony.
Pennington extended an invitation to any prospective SUVCW members to join the group. The McPherson Camp is active in commemorative activities and historical preservation. Meetings are held on the fourth Tuesday of each month at 6 p.m. at the Whole Hog Cafe, 1400 S.E. Walton Blvd. in Bentonville. Guests can order off the menu, and the business meeting starts at 6:30. Several members who are skilled genealogists can help prospective members locate records of their Union ancestors.
Contact Camp Commander Joseph (Joe) Rainey at [email protected] or 479-381-6883 for further information.