Citizens unite to preserve the memory of local veterans


In Flanders Fields the poppies blow

Between the crosses, row on row,

That mark our place; and in the sky

The Larks, still bravely singing fly

Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead.

John McCrae


Melissa Clampit looked around Saturn Cemetery and did not like what she saw. She had just been appointed an officer on the Saturn Cemetery Association governing board, and the appointment meant a lot to her. She took her office seriously and resolved to inspect and tour every grave on the grounds. What she discovered was disconcerting, especially when she gazed upon the graves of our honored veterans. She knew she had to do something about it. For “them.”

The "them” were 93 veterans buried in the Saturn Cemetery located south of Waelder on Highway 97. In educating herself about the cemetery and who was buried in it, Melissa discovered that 93 veterans are buried in this stated designated Historic Cemetery.

Many of the veterans’ graves were in total disrepair. Some did not even have a tombstone to mark where they were buried. Most of the vets who did have tombstones were often crooked, filthy or in a state of dilapidation.

“It was very sad to see the status of the graves of these brave men,” Melissa said. “These are our bravest men, and no one was really taking of their grave or their memory. It really made me sad when I discovered some did not even have their graves marked.

“I knew this needed to be changed.”

She immediately went to work and told the association officers and board about the issues she had come across. Everyone agreed to start cleaning up the place and trimming trees to make the property more presentable.

But she and the board had to do something for them, the 93 warriors and veterans who are buried there.

“We undertook a project to restore and clean up the oldest part of our cemetery first,” Clampit said. “We brought Capitol National Monument out to the property, and when Joe Solansky looked at it, he knew something had to be done as well.

“We fixed up the old part of the cemetery, and a little bit of time went by. Then Joe called me and told me he had a proposal.”

It was a proposal of the most noble character.

Solansky’s idea was simple—and extremely generous. His proposal was he and his team from Capital National Monument would come out one day and they would clean up the grave sites of all the veterans. They would reset crooked monuments. They would clean the facing of the monuments and tablets. And most incredibly, they would place markers and headstones for all the veterans buried there who had no identification.

“When I came out here to work on the old portion of the cemetery with Melissa, I looked around and saw the sad state of our veterans graves,” Solansky said. “It really moved me. Heck it bothered me. I knew I had to do something. It was a way of giving back and showing support for our veterans. They deserve that from us.

“Doing this for a day was a way of our showing our appreciation and respect for what they did and what they gave.”

On Tuesday of this week, Solansky and his workers along with Clampit tried to make up for lost time in an effort to honor the hallowed dead. Graves were fixed up, markers were placed, flags for every veteran were placed, and new headstones were put down to mark where a previous unknown veteran had been buried.

From the American Civil War to World War I, World War II, Korea, Vietnam and the Gulf wars--all veterans now have set tombstones or headstones that have been cleaned. They are adorned with American flags commemorating their service to their country. And everyone can now be found.

“I am so proud of this effort to honor these heroes,” Clampit said. “Joe was so kind to do what he did, and I think we have done all these veterans proud.

Short days ago,

We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,

Loved and were loved, and we lie in Flanders Fields.

Take up our quarrel against the foe;

To you from failing hands we throw

The torch; be yours to hold it high,

If ye break faith with us who die.

We shall not sleep, though poppies grow

In Flanders fields.


Thanks to Melissa, Joe and others, in Saturn fields our dead can sleep peacefully tonight.