NMU Student Veterans Clean Tombstones

Volunteer scrubs a tombstone

The Northern Michigan University Student Veterans of America organization partnered with the UP Together with Veterans suicide prevention initiative on the second annual tombstone cleaning event. This year's location was the Ishpeming cemetery. The 25 volunteers who cleaned more than 100 veteran tombstones dating from the Civil War to WWII were NMU student veterans and alumni, as well as community members.

"This event, started last year, is intended to clean up some of the tombstones that may not have been tended to in many years due to family and friends having long ago moved or passed away," said Michael Rutledge, coordinator of Student Veteran Services at NMU. 

One stone of interest cleaned this year fit the student-veteran theme. It marked the grave of a member of the WWI Student Army Training Corps, Pvt. Dewey C. Urquhart. The SATC was formed in 1918 to allow college students to continue classes while training to deploy overseas and fight. Urquhart was attending the University of Michigan while participating in the program, and was sent to France in the summer of 1918.

One other veteran's stone of note was for Pvt. Malcolm Nelson of Company C, 339th Infantry Regiment, known as the "Polar Bears."  Nelson participated in the North Russia Expedition (Archangel) in 1918-19. This mission was intended to protect supplies at that port that had been sent prior to the Russian Revolution. The goal was to keep the supplies from falling into the hands of the Bolsheviks.

Tombstone before and after cleaning
Tombstone before and after cleaning
Volunteer reaches high to clean a tombstone
Volunteer reaches high to clean a tombstone
Prepared By

Kristi Evans
News Director

Categories: Around NMU