Monument rededicated after century

POSTED: 01:50 PM MST Dec 24, 2013    UPDATED: 11:13 PM MST Nov 12, 2013 
IDAHO FALLS, Idaho -

After more than a century, a Civil War monument was re-dedicated at Rose Hill Cemetery on Monday.

The monument was hidden behind decades of growth. Weeds covered the whole thing until one woman's curiosity led to the rededication.

"My great-great grandfather, who was a corporal in the 10th Iowa infantry, was buried right next to the monument," said Elaine Johnson.

Johnson was searching for her great-great grandfather's grave when she came across what appeared to be a headstone lodged in a bush of weeds. Johnson assumed that, like her grandfather, the bushes covered an undocumented grave.

"I wondered who was in the tree, because whoever was in there was probably lost as well," said Johnson.

When pulling up weeds and pushing back branches, she never thought she would find the letters "G-A-R" and the word "veterans."

"I couldn't believe it, that's the Civil War," she said.

After seeing the inscription, Johnson said she knew she was on to something big.

"So I dug into the tree and pulled a little harder. Debris rained down on my head, and I worried about spiders," said Johnson.

Spiders and dirt didn't stop her. Johnson was determined to uncover the headstone.

"I kept pulling until I saw the words Civil War," she said.

Johnson then told the cemetery management, who had no idea that a piece of history was right in its backyard. Cemetery workers then called the Sons of the Union Veterans of the Civil War. Salt Lake City Camp Representative Eric Richhart decided to rededicate the monument on Veterans Day.

"We hope that what we did today will have touched people's hearts. We hope they might come and join with us in keeping these relics safe and these graves up to date," he said.

After the monument's first dedication in 1911, Johnson hopes people can understand what this monument really means.

"We need to remember them (Civil War veterans) and what they went through. It didn't just end when the war ended -- they had to live with those experiences the rest of their lives," she said.