CLINTON — CLINTON — Tucked away in Springdale and St. Mary’s cemeteries, more than 30 local veterans are laid to rest. People may not notice these moss-covered, standard tombstones — like those found in Arlington National Cemetery — if not for the American flags decorating the area.
Adjutant Bob Soesbe and the rest of American Legion Post 190 hope to bring more awareness about these existing gravesites, as well as the additional plots that remain available — free of charge — to area veterans.
“They’re kind of for- gotten up here, I think, here and at St. Mary’s,” said Soesbe, standing atop the hillside in Springdale Cemetery. “And we shouldn’t forget them.”
The American Legion bought space in Section 80 of Springdale Ceme- tery on July 29, 1929 and on Oct. 22, 1940. Lot 78, Block E-12 in St. Mary’s Cemetery was purchased by the organization on Jan. 29, 1921.
“Probably because a veteran died and didn’t have a place to be buried, so the Legion bought a plot for him,” Soesbe said about why the land was initially purchased.
As adjutant, or secretary, for the Legion, Soesbe first discovered the organization had purchased these plots when he discovered a deed for them in a Legion safety deposit box. After that, he visited the Clinton County Historical Society to gather information on the men buried there and looked up their obituar- ies at the Clinton Public Library.
“That was just mainly curiosity, but it grew and grew,” Soesbe said.
Each location still has open plots available to area veterans, members of the American Legion or not. There are 15 avail- able plots at Springdale Cemetery and seven at St. Mary’s.
Soesbe said most people, including some of the funeral home directors, are not aware that these spaces are available. He is working to let the community know they exist. He said all a veteran or family of a veteran has to do is let the funeral home know there is an interest in these plots.
The American Legion also is hoping to improve the appearance of these cemetery plots. Moss and other wear can be seen on most of these gravestones. Soesbe said they plan to bleach them and clean them up next spring.
The Legion also had Foley Tree Service recently repaint the flag pole at Springdale Cemetery.