Abilene group working to get headstones for unmarked veteran graves


ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – When looking back on history, many long for connection — something to tether us to the larger-than-life stories we so often hear. For the Daughters of the American Revolution, (DAR) that historical tether is what brings them together.

“The DAR chapter here is a group of ladies who have patriots from the American Revolution as ancestors,” says DAR member Sidney Levesque.

Levesque gained membership to the local DAR chapter through her distant ancestor William Titus Mershon, a veteran of the revolutionary war who Levesque says rowed in a boat across the Delaware at the same time as General George Washington.

The DAR aims to preserve and honor those who served in any decade, though. Recently, a Houston chapter of their organization was able to order headstones for unmarked veteran graves at a public cemetery. Levesque and her fellow members hope to the the same at the Abilene Municipal Cemetery.

“There is about 30,000 people buried here in the Abilene city cemetery and there are several hundred, if not a few thousand, unmarked graves,” Levesque says.

They will have to search through those 30,000 names and separate out which are unmarked, which are veterans, and which qualify for a headstone. It’s a tall order, but Levesque says they’re up for the challenge.

“We’ve done a lot of that kind of documentation for our own families, and so it’s now enjoyable to research other people and try to help do that same kind of documentation to help them get remembered in this way,” said Levesque.

If their research finds that a veteran meets the requirements for a free headstone, they’ll order it, but an installation fee of $50-$100 will still be needed.

“Once we get farther along in our project and find out exactly how many applications have been approved for the veterans of the unmarked graves here at the city cemetery, we’ll probably undergo some fundraising efforts and reach out to the community,” Levesque says.

Though for now they’re still in the early stages of the project, which could take a couple years to fully complete.

“We want to make sure that their names are known and that their service to our country is celebrated,” Levesque says. “It’ll be a long-term project, but we are committed to seeing it to the end.”

Anyone with information on the identities of someone in an unmarked grave is encouraged to reach out to the DAR by clicking here.

If you would like to donate to the cause, click here.

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