October 01, 2023

Creston remembers

Biblical scripture Ecclesiastes 3 lists various moments in life to acknowledge including a time for “war and a time for peace.” Creston’s Memorial Day service was “a time to pause and remember.”

Dozens of people did just that at the service held at Graceland Cemetery.

Creston VFW Post 1797 Commander Gary O’Daniels was the speaker informing the audience of the history of the day. He said practice of decorating graves of soldiers who died goes back to the days of the Greeks and Romans. Festivals would be held to honor those people.

Since then, America has stopped to honor its war casualties since Robert Monroe was killed by the British in April 1775 in Lexington, Massachusetts, through the present day adding the 13 members of U.S. military who died in August 2021 during the evacuation of Afghanistan.

“More than 1.1 million American military members have given their lives during war times for the United States of America,” he said.

O’Daniels said there are estimates of 622,000 Americans who died during the Civil War in the 1860s. National cemeteries were organized for the Union soldiers who died. In early 1864, people in Boalsburg, Pennsylvania, decorated graves of fallen Civil War soldiers. The same was done in Carbondale, Illinois, and Petersburg, Virginia.

Freed slaves found a mass grave of 257 Union soldiers in 1865 in Charleston, South Carolina, and gave them a proper burial. An honorary parade followed and brought about 10,000 people.

Memorial Day got its start May 30, 1868, for Civil War soldiers by proclamation of Gen. John Logan of the Grand Army of the Republic. The date was chosen since there were no battles fought on that day during the Civil War. President Lyndon Johnson noted in 1966 the Memorial Day efforts Waterloo, New York, has done since 1866. Memorial Day has been a federal holiday, on the last Monday in May, since 1968.

O’Daniels highlighted many veterans buried in Graceland noting their branch, time of service, honors and other contributions. Civil War veterans are buried in Graceland.

John Van Nostrand


An Iowa native, John's newspaper career has mostly been in small-town weeklies from the Rocky Mountains to the Mississippi River. He first stint in Creston was from 2002 to 2005.