Memorial Day events reach back to Civil War battle
by Gregory R. Norfleet · News · May 24, 2013

From music to memorial services, local organizations will provide several events this weekend and on Memorial Day in and around West Branch.

Events range from a brass band at the presidential museum, American Legion events for veterans, a Civil War service and a special Monday Mass.

Participation actually begins 5 p.m. Friday, as the West Branch American Legion Post 514 invites the community to help raise the Avenue of Flags at West Branch Municipal Cemetery.

At 11 a.m. Saturday, there will be a special Civil War memorial service at the Thompson-Cherry graveyard in the Scott Township cemetery for the Detwiler brothers killed in the Battle of Vicksburg. This is the 150th anniversary of that battle. West Branch’s Rev. Richard Paulus will offer a prayer and a brief history of how his family is related.

Memorial Day events:

8:30 a.m. — The Legion will conduct a short ceremony at the cemetery with a rifle salute and prayer at the Ring of Honor.

9 a.m. — The Friends of St Bridget’s will host Memorial Day Mass at St Bridget’s Church of Nolan Settlement, 2136 St. Bridget’s Road. Fr. Dennis Martin will offer Mass for Veterans and loved ones in the Cemetery. Visitors are encouraged to bring lawn chairs. The church will be open from 8 - 11:30 a.m. and refreshments will be served. For more information, call John Wall at 643-5495.

9:30 a.m. — The Legion will lay a wreath at the base of the wall at Appreciation Park.

10:30 a.m. The Legion will host its all-weather ceremony at West Branch High School. Sen. Bob Dvorsky will serve as the guest speaker. The Ladies Auxiliary will lay a wreath for the soldiers Missing or Killed in Action and a bell will ring for each veteran who has died in the past year.

2 p.m. — The Eastern Iowa Brass Band will perform a free concert at the Herbert Hoover Presidential Museum. This concert is the first of many events scheduled this summer in conjunction with the new temporary exhibit, Iowans and the Civil War.

5 p.m. — Lower the flags at the West Branch cemetery.

The Civil War Memorial Service is being organized by Jeff McDowell, a Civil War re-enactor who came across the markers for Cpl. Jacob H. Detwiler and Pvt. Christian Detwiler Jr. at the Scott Township Cemetery.

McDowell, who has also contributed to displays at the Hoover Library-Museum, found out that the Detwilers are actually not buried in the Iowa cemetery, but at Vicksburg, Miss. Still, McDowell wants to draw attention to their contribution.

Paulus notes that many men from Johnson County took part in the 200-soldier, 47-day siege of the Mississippi town, but only 20 percent survived. Many of Paulus’ family are buried there as well.

The graveyard is on Utah Avenue off of Highway 6, just east of Fun & Sun Camper Sales east of Iowa City. For more information, you may reach McDowell at 319-351-6678 or

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