Tuesday, November 22, 2011
DALLAS -- The service of Pvt. William Truax in Indiana's 40th Volunteer Infantry during the Civil War still is changing lives today.
On Saturday, Nov. 19, at Dallas Cemetery, a Remembrance Day ceremony and rededication was held for the headstones of Truax and Cpl. Lewis Olin (13th Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry). Their graves until recently didn't acknowledge them as veterans of the Civil War.
Daniel Trueax, the great-grandson of William Truax, and Mary Miller, Truax's great-great-granddaughter, both from Dallas, attended the ceremony.
Both families had been aware of their connection to Truax, but not to each other until Saturday.
"My family had been decorating his grave for a long time," Miller said.
Trueax and his wife, Pat, discovered Truax's headstones by accident while visiting the graves of other relatives.
Photo by Pete Strong
Lincoln impersonator Stephen Holgate recited the Gettysburg Address, originally delivered Nov. 19, 1863.
"We were just roaming around looking at headstones and found this headstone," Pat Trueax said. "We had no idea he was even here."
The families talked about what they knew of Truax -- including the various spellings of his last name (Trueax and Truax, among others) found in records -- and exchanged e-mail addresses hoping between the two of them they would find out more.
The Edward D. Baker Camp of Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War organized the ceremony, which brought the distant relatives together. The group has two main responsibilities: education about and preservation of the history of the Civil War. Saturday's ceremony accomplished both tasks.
Mark Stevens, Baker Camp commander, said 120 headstones of men buried in Oregon -- like those of Olin and Truax -- have been corrected to reflect their service during the war.
Each year the group honors Remembrance Day (Nov. 19), which commemorates the day President Abraham Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address.
Lincoln's legendary speech, delivered at a dedication of the site of the Battle of Gettysburg where about 50,000 soldiers were killed, wounded or captures, was an afterthought, Stevens said. The main speaker was Edward Everett, the president of Harvard University. He spoke for more than two hours before Lincoln delivered his remarks.
Those listening on Nov. 19, 1863, knew immediately how important those words would become.
"You've said more in two and a half minutes than what I said in two hours," Everett said to Lincoln after the brief address.
Lincoln impersonator Stephen Holgate recited those words, which still resonate today, as part of Saturday's ceremony.
"Those (words) are not only for 1863," Stevens said. "They are for all Americans, for all time."
And now, for all time, the headstones of Truax and Olin will declare their service in the fight for the freedom of all Americans.
"It was a real honor," Daniel Trueax said of Saturday's ceremony. "I think William would have appreciated it."