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New monument salutes Civil War veterans
Previous marker at S.L. cemetery had deteriorated

Descendants of those who fought in the Civil War have dedicated a new granite monument in the Salt Lake City Cemetery.

The monument, donated by the cemetery and Salt Lake Monument Co., replaces a crumbling marker erected in 1919 to honor Utah's Civil War veterans."We're not big and flashy. But we're going to remember. We'll be here," said Ken Nelson, a Sons of Union Veterans member who traces his Civil War roots to an Irish ancestor who died in Louisiana in 1864.

Sons of Union Veterans must be a blood relative of a soldier or sailor who served between 1861 and 1865. Salt Lake City's group -- called a "camp" -- has 25 members, including a re-enactment group that dresses in Union uniforms.

In 1862, President Lincoln asked territorial Gov. Brigham Young to gather a cavalry unit to guard the mail and telegraph routes along the Overland Trail.

The Salt Lake monument is dedicated to that group and their leader, Lot Smith.

"We have a little bit of a Civil War connection," Nelson said, "a small footnote."

When the Civil War ended in 1865, nearly 2 million veterans settled across the country. A U.S. Census of Union veterans in 1890 counted 800 in Utah, most immigrants like the Mormon pioneers.

About 83 are buried in the Salt Lake City Cemetery in the Avenues district and at Mount Olivet Cemetery above 1300 East.

Memorial Day traditions began with those veterans. On May 5, 1868, the commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, an organization for Civil War survivors, issued an order declaring May 30 the day for decorating comrades' graves.

"Let no vandalism of avarice or neglect, no ravages of time, testify to the present or coming generations that we have forgotten as a people, the cost of a free and undivided republic," the order stated.

Charged with taking over the duties of the grand army, Sons of Union Veterans take their job seriously.

"Memorial Day is a personal responsibility," said Camp Cmdr. Gerald Mosley, who has three ancestors who enlisted during the Civil War.

"We have a responsibility to remember those who fought and died for what America stands for, the values that make America great."