Memorial Day brings memories of Violet Hill Cemetery

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Leora Wilson tends the graves at Violet Hill Cemetery about 1980.

Honored on the Dallas County Freedom Rock are, from left, Navymen Donald Wilson and Delbert Wilson and pilots Dale Wilson, Danny Wilson and Junior Wilson.

The five brothers on the Dallas County Freedom Rock have ties to Perry. All five Wilson brothers served in World War II. Only two came home.

For decades, Grandma Leora and her daughters took Memorial Day flowers to Violet Hill Cemetery to remember the three who were lost. I was part of the ritual when I was a girl and took for granted that all three are buried there. After Grandma died, I learned that only one is actually buried there, that another is buried in an overseas American cemetery and that only God knows where the remains of the third brother lie today.

Since the purpose of Memorial Day is to remember our war casualties, our focus is always the Wilson family plot at Violet Hill.

In 2016 the Perry Historic Preservation group installed markers beside the stones for Dale, Danny and Junior Wilson. Some folks have asked how to find the Wilson plot. Enter at the main gate, and take the first left while keeping to the right. They are just before some tall evergreen arborvitae.

In 2018 Ray “Bubba” Sorensen used photographs, taken by Edmondson’s Studio in Perry, to paint the brothers on the Dallas County Freedom Rock at Minburn, near where they were tenant farmers during most of the war. In late 1944, with all their sons gone, Clabe and Leora bought an acreage southeast of Perry.

Within just a three-year period, Leora lost three sons and was widowed. She and Clabe are also buried at Violet Hill Cemetery. Especially on Memorial Day, may we remember the sacrifice of this Dallas County family.

Joy Neal Kidney of West Des Moines is the author of “Leora’s Letters: The Story of Love and Loss for an Iowa Family during World War II,” “Leora‚Äôs Dexter Stories: The Scarcity Years of the Great Depression” and “Leora’s Early Years: Guthrie County Roots.”


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