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Recognition restored: 148 vets in unmarked graves get new headstones

Posted at 3:46 PM, May 30, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-30 18:24:38-04

MANSFIELD, Ohio — In the Old Soldiers Grounds section of the Mansfield Cemetery, 148 men and women who proudly served our nation lie in their final resting place.

"1923 was the death of the first veteran buried in here," said Sue Dell, Richland County Veteran Service Commission.

And in the years that followed, each veteran was buried in the most basic way.

“In the beginning, everything was just grass and nobody was spaced properly," said Pamela Brautz, Mansfield Cemetery.

Without headstones on each grave, the sacrifice the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines made sadly went unnoticed.

"In a cemetery, the easiest way to find your people is by a stone, naturally. The biggest honor they can get in death is to be marked as a veteran," said Brautz.

On Memorial Day, the Old Soldiers Grounds was rededicated to honor and respect the veterans buried here, but also to celebrate the completion of a painstaking process.

"It was a big endeavor we took on,” said Brautz.

Brautz, along with a handful of others, collected cemetery and death records row-by-row to identify each service member.

"For most of us working on this project, we all have veterans in our lives as well. There were so many veterans who had had a stone for the first time ever," said Brautz.

The unraveling of history started more than a decade ago following Sue Dell's visit to the cemetery.

"Every veteran in here deserved to have a headstone," said Dell.

Dell learned among those who didn't have one was a Purple Heart recipient.

"We have righted a wrong that has been here for many years," said Dell.

Now the newly placed markers are making it much easier to remember those who put their fellow Americans ahead of themselves.

"People can walk through a see the different names and thank them for their service," said Dell.