LINN TOWNSHIP — The message inscribed on a new stone at an old cemetery in rural Iowa is simple: “In honor of all those who served with bravery, dignity and pride.”
It’s also deeply meaningful, says Marcia Driscoll, a Linn Township trustee who also serves as clerk in the small Cedar County community. The stone is intended to honor veterans of all wars and conflicts, as well as any future veterans, buried at the Mason-Wallick Cemetery.
“We just thought it was our obligation as Cedar County officials to make our little cemetery as nice as possible and to show people what a few dollars and hard work can do,” she said.
Located south of Mechanicsville on Delta Avenue between 185th and 190th streets, Mason-Wallick Cemetery was established in 1853. It is the final resting place for about 200 individuals, most of whom lived during the 1880s. Among those buried in the cemetery are five Civil War veterans, three from World War I and one from World War II.
The new stone — funded by a $2,500 grant from the Cedar County Board of Supervisors — sits near the Delta Avenue entrance to the cemetery. A dedication ceremony takes place at 6 p.m. Thursday. Col. Randy Warm of the Iowa National Guard is to deliver the keynote address. The public is welcome to attend.
In addition to the dedication of the stone, guests are invited to stroll the grounds of the cemetery to see some of the other improvements.
Since 2010, members of the Linn Township board of trustees and their families have volunteered their time to restore the headstones, which includes repairing broken markers and cleaning others, Driscoll said.
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“We decided as people taking care of this, our job is to return the cemetery to its former glory,” Driscoll said.
That effort recently hit a snag when the wooden bridge serving as the only entrance into the cemetery collapsed. The bridge was repaired, however, and volunteers plan to finish restoring headstones before Thursday’s dedication.
Driscoll hopes the improvements make Mason-Wallick Cemetery more of a destination for local residents. She said the site is a little-known feature in Cedar County. “I lived here 20 years before I knew it was here,” she said.
“We are really trying to show people what we do with their tax dollars to restore history to let them know that what we’re doing is important.
“We hope they come and see for themselves what’s going on.”