After 18 months of diligent digging and dogged determination, the Perry Historic Preservation Commission has finished its painstaking research and announced the completion of the first exhaustive compilation of U.S. veterans buried in Violet Hill Cemetery in Perry.
Through the good offices of Dallas County Veterans Services Officer Nick Praska and the Dallas County Veterans Affairs Commission, the Perry Historic Preservation Commissioners, including President Gary Martin, Vice-President Jeanette Peddicord, Treasurer Gene Peel and Commissioner John Palmer, combed the county records of veterans’ grave registrations and compiled the updated list.
“We had quite a time of it,” said Peddicord. “The records aren’t alphabetized in any way. Entries were made simply in the order that people died in the county. Finding the Perry graves took a lot of steady work by a lot of dedicated volunteers.”
Many of the records in the county’s enormous, old, leather-bound ledger books are hand written and date from the era of the U.S. Civil War in the 1860s. A few records are even older, recording the Dallas County graves of veterans of the U.S. war with Mexico in 1846 and from the numerous U.S. wars against the tribes of Native Americans, which lasted throughout the 1800s.
“The list is now complete,” said Martin. “We brought it up to date.” There are about 1,000 veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces buried in Violet Hill Cemetery.
Recent additions to the list will now be honored in Violet Hill with a memorial grave marker and flag holder, paid for out of Praska’s office’s budget. By state law, the county’s Veterans Services Office must be notified of the grave registration of every veteran who dies in Dallas County.
“That notification depends entirely on the funeral home,” Praska said, “which is why I’m reaching out to every funeral home in Dallas County and arranging a meet and greet with them. We want them all on board with this important matter.”
Praska said he is also working to supply a packet of materials for funeral homes to provide to survivors of U.S. veterans. The packet will contain information on survivor’s benefits, emergency assistance, pensions and other compensation.
The new flag holders, formerly made of bronze but recently replaced by holders of an aluminum-and-pewter alloy — thanks to the watchful eyes of zealous budget hawks on the county board of supervisors, according to Peddicord, who saw a chance to trim Praska’s budget — will be placed on the graves prior to Veterans Day ceremonies planned for Wednesday, Nov. 11.