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For week ended October 17, 1999 Posted 31 Oct 1999

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Civil war hero's descendants pay tribute as veteran reburied

Summarized by Eric Bunker

Civil war hero's descendants pay tribute as veteran reburied
Joliet IL Herald News 17Oct99 P2
Civil war hero's descendants pay tribute as veteran reburied

JOLIET, ILLINOIS -- Bro. Norman Hyatt, from Utah, with his sister and brother-in-law Anita and Ralph Davis standing by, dedicated the final resting-place of their great-grandparents, 1st Sgt. Theodore Hyatt and his wife Melvenia. Sgt. Hyatt, a Civil War hero who received the Congressional Medal of Honor in 1894, was among the first three veterans buried in the new Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery near Elwood, Ill.

The remains were exhumed from graves in the Lockport, Ill. City Cemetery where they were originally buried. The old soldier died in May 1900 at age 70, two years after his wife. The only thing that will distinguish Sgt. Hyatt's new grave from other veterans at the national cemetery will be the uniformed headstone's gold leaf lettering, which is reserved for only Medal of Honor recipients.

With a traditional military service, a 20-member veterans' honor guard from the Manhattan, Ill. American Legion and the Wilmington, Ill VFW, reinterred the bodies while a rifle squad fired a salute and the sound of taps echoed across the cemetery. The American flag that draped the casket was carefully folded into a triangle and presented to Sgt. Hyatt's great-grand children as a symbol of respect from a grateful nation.

Norman Hyatt, a retired professor, who himself is a World War II veteran, thanked several people responsible for the burial of his great-grandparents in the national cemetery. With a voice full of emotion, he then read a newspaper story published in 1897. That story was his great-grandfather's own words about what had happened that day at the battle of Vicksburg, for which he was awarded the Medal of Honor.

The family, most whom found the church in the middle of this century, has grown up learning the details of their ancestor's story. They've read his letters home, saved the original medal and preserved pieces of a battle flag that the sergeant sent home to his wife. As a family, they have visited the battle site at Vicksburg.

Anita Davis said her great-grandfather suffered a lot after the Civil War. He had severe headaches, possibly caused by stress from his war memories, and suffered the rest of his life from respiratory ailments that he acquired in the swamps around Vicksburg during the siege. Later in the Civil War, he lost part of his left foot at the battle of Atlanta.

The sergeant's Medal of Honor, his soldier's identification badge, the Bible he carried through the war, letters and other papers he wrote, pieces of the old battle flag and his saber have been donated by the family to the Fort Douglas Museum in Salt Lake City, a facility specializing in Civil War era military artifacts.

Bro. Hyatt said that his great-grandfather was a humble man who might not have wanted so much attention. Besides being a soldier, economics led Sgt. Hyatt into stints as a Baptist minister, a teacher, a storekeeper, a boatman and a bookkeeper in a number of different areas from Illinois to Mexico, working last as a gatekeeper at the American Steel and Wire Mill in Rockdale, Ill.

Copyright 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001 Kent Larsen · Privacy Information