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The Globe Gazette
October 5, 2000

Union veterans group wants to preserve history

MASON CITY - Civil War memorials, monuments and gravestones are in danger of serious neglect and decay, but members of a newly formed Mason City organization hope to slow the process in North Iowa.

The Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War (SUVCW) held an organizational meeting Wednesday night at the Mason City Public Library. Twenty-five North Iowans gathered to discuss how they could help preserve the monuments and honor Civil War veterans.

"We're trying to get enough people to start a SUVCW camp in Mason City," said coordinator Larry Roach, 54, Mason City, "and that camp will be called C.H. Huntley No. 14 of the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War."

Mason City has never had a SUVCW group before, though a chapter of the Daughters of Veterans of the Civil War was formed some time ago, Roach said.

SUVCW members have begun working on one gravestone, in the Plymouth Cemetery. The stone has decayed over time, and the Civil War soldier's name is barely readable. Roach said that gravesite will be the first of many in North Iowa to be renovated. But, replacing a gravestone is sometimes an involved process. It can take months for the governmental paperwork to be approved, Roach said.

In the meantime, Roach said the newly formed Mason City group is trying to raise concern for several Civil War cannons located in North Iowa towns. He said the base of a canon in Manly is in need of serious repair and two canons in Northwood need work as well. Roach said he would like to rededicate all the Civil War monuments in North Iowa including the statue in Mason City's Central Park.

"We are not a Civil War re-enactors group," Roach said.

New members, Daren Russell, 77, Steven Russell, 47, and Bill Barnett, 20, all of Clear Lake, represent three generations of sons of Civil War soldier James Robbins.

"It's pretty cool," Barnett said. "I get to understand my ancestral background. I was a re-enactor before, but I became more interested in the Civil War once I learned I had ancestors in it and who died for a great cause."

Roger Shannon, 54, Woodward, the SUVCW Department Commander for Iowa, said he is interested in preserving the Civil War monuments around the state because he is a veteran, and believes the sacrifices that all United States veterans made should be remembered and kept sacred.

"All these people were willing to sacrifice their lives for this country," Shannon said, "and that is something that should not and cannot be forgotten. Everything we have in this country today, right now, is the direct result of somebody else's sacrifice, and rivers of tears and oceans of blood have been shed over it."

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