The Omaha Memorial Day tradition continues on Prospect Hill

OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) – Prospect Hill Historic Cemetery and Arboretum, located near 32nd and Parker in North Omaha, has been holding a memorial service for 40 years.

The group that portrayed the march of the first Nebraska volunteer up Prospect Hill wanted to enforce the fact that Nebraska played a role in the state’s war, even though Nebraska was a territory at the time.

“We won’t become a state until 1867, but Nebraska answered the call they fought at Donaldson, they basically saved the day at Donaldson. The Confederates counterattacked and Grant said it was a good thing the First Nebraska was there to stop them, ”said Bill Deardoff, First Nebraska Volunteer.

More than 70 civil war veterans are buried in the cemetery. Some of them are home grown and some that made Nebraska their home.

“Many Omaha residents fought in the Civil War, some of them for Nebraska, but many of them for other states, then eventually made their last residence in Omaha in their lifetime, and so we ended up in our cemetery with so many Said Shannon Lewis, Prospect Hill Board of Trustees.

“And you will find that there will be a marker, a metalworker at the grave that reads“ Great Army of the Republic, ”which will be a forerunner of the days of the America’s Legion and America’s VFW and so they were commemorated and civil war veterans would be meet every year until finally the last in the 1900s. “

Bill Deardoff is one of the reenactors of the Civil War, he says soldiers from Nebraska continued the fight after the Civil War.

“The first Nebraska fought in the Civil War when the country needed them again in the Spanish-American War. First Nebraska was also reformed and they also fought in the Spanish-American War and in the Philippines. “

Buffalo soldier Allen McClare, who served with Teddy Roosevelt’s Rough Riders in San Juan Hill, is buried here. There is a memorial in honor of Captain Lee Forby, who died in the Philippines.

Deardoff and colleagues believe it is important to respond to remember the sacrifices Nebraska soldiers made to protect our county in the early years.

“It goes back to when the Nebraskans took the call.”

The band played, the flag was hoisted, and for the first time in two years, crowds came to the historic cemetery for Memorial Day.

Barb Naughtin, President of the Cemetery Board of Trustees, said, “We’re just thrilled to be here and have all of these people.”

It was a pretty good audience. Many of the people flocked to read about the final resting places of veterans who gave their lives for the country and for many of Omaha’s pioneers.

There are buried people after whom streets, schools and parks are named.

“Prospect Hill Cemetery is the oldest cemetery in Douglas County. We buried 15,000 people here. We no longer accept burials so people don’t really come here to see it unless they know their very ancient ancestors are buried here. Many people in Omaha have ancestors here, but they don’t know about it. “

Jennifer Griess knew about this place. She has been coming to the cemetery the day before the holidays for about a dozen years.

“We come every Saturday before Memorial Day. We set the flags for the vets and pay our respects. … 55 Troop 88 does that. It has been a tradition for around 30 years. As soon as my son joins, we’ll just keep going. “

“It just hits the heart,” she said. “We haven’t been able to do that in recent years, so it’s nice to be back here to listen to the music, the 21 gun salutes, and pay their respects to those who went ahead so that we can be here today. “

Organizers say it is important to continue the event in order to preserve the Omaha cemetery and history that lives on in the stories behind many of the names on the monuments. The cemetery was established in 1858 and is one of the oldest cemeteries in the state.

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