Scout Inspires Civil War Remembrance
Church bells tolled at Ss. Peter & Paul Catholic Church in Waterloo at 2:15 p.m. on Thursday, commemorating the 150th anniversary of the end the Civil War.
Waterloo joined the rest of the nation in remembering the surrender of Confederate General Robert E. Lee to Union Lieutenant General Ulysses S. Grant at a small Virginia courthouse 150 years ago, ending the deadliest conflict in American history.
As part of Waterloo’s day of remembrance, city officials and community residents held a dedication ceremony at Ss. Peter & Paul Cemetery, where local Boy Scout Shane Douglas was recognized for his tribute to Civil War veterans, both north and south.
For his Eagle Scout project, Douglas, a Waterloo High School sophomore and member of Boy Scout Troop 323, planted bronze memorial markers at the gravesites of each known Civil War veteran in Waterloo – 99 in all – at the city’s three main cemeteries.
As for why he chose to pursue the project, Douglas said he approached Mayor Tom Smith last year, asking for ideas for his Eagle Scout project that would allow him to combine his interests in history and scouting.
“This was the first thing the mayor suggested and I took to it right away because I wanted to learn more about the war and our city at the time,” he said.
Douglas’ project is not only a reminder of how close the Civil War was to the families of Waterloo but also a symbol of the city’s heritage, Smith said.
“We’re very proud of (Shane) and this project that commemorates the end of the Civil War and adds to our cemeteries,” Smith said.
Thirty-one veterans are buried at Ss. Peter & Paul Cemetery, 67 at Waterloo City Cemetery, one at Kolmer Cemetery and one is buried in a private cemetery. Of these 99, 20 are without headstones. But thanks to Douglas, now the veterans will be identified and remembered.
Douglas worked extensively with city officials and the Monroe County Genealogical Society to identify the graves of Civil War veterans buried locally.
“It took a lot of time and effort to do this (project) and I’m just glad that people were willing to put in that time,” Douglas said.
Thursday’s ceremony included the installment of the last two remaining grave markers and began with a reverent silence that was broken by a call to order and the advance of the color guard, performed by members of both the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War and Sons of Confederate Veterans of the Civil War.
Mayor Smith served as emcee and Rev. Osang Idagbo of Ss. Peter & Paul Church gave the opening prayer.
State Representative Jerry Costello II was among a number of distinguished guest speakers who commended Douglas for his enthusiasm and work on the project, saying that he was “taken back” when he learned of the scout’s project.
“As a veteran myself, it’s humbling to see that someone of Shane’s age takes such an interest in history,” Costello said.
Following the burial of the last grave markers, a line of blue and gray uniformed re-enactors, standing shoulder to shoulder, gave a gun salute that was accompanied by a moving
performance of “Taps” as the crowd stood silently, hands over hearts.
“Now that it’s over, I’m glad that (the Civil War veterans) can get the recognition that they deserve for their service to our country,” Douglas said.