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Program highlights veterans' forgotten tales

Jacksonville Journal-Courier - 10/23/2017

Oct. 22--MOUNT STERLING -- A Brown County Historical Society member's passion for the past has uncovered forgotten or untold tales of Brown County history that will be shared on Thursday.

Becky Long, a member of the Brown County Historical Society, has spent more than a year doing research on the Veterans Memorial at the Catholic Cemetery in Mount Sterling. With her brother buried there as well as other ancestors, Long said her vested interest in the cemetery and love for history has driven the project to become what it is today.

"Our military past is so important," Long said. "This project was a way to recognize and honor those who have given so much in honor to our country. The more I have delved into this project, the more I realize that their stories have been forgotten."

Fallen soldiers without markers, without children or wives or family to continue their story, often carry with them a piece of history untold, Long said.

For instance, one such story is that of the World War II veteran Marcellus Wegs, who was one of only two survivors in a torpedo attack that killed 78 aboard a ship. Another story is that of Thomas Terrance Brady, the first WWII casualty from Brown County, who died in 1943 during combat on the Solomon Islands.

Using the "Pictorial History of Brown County, IL 1995" and the "History of Brown County, IL 1880-1970," as well as a community gravesite database, Long slowly pieced together stories of veterans who didn't have their story documented.

At 6:30 p.m. Thursday, there will be a dinner and presentation in the sanctuary of Mount Sterling Methodist Church. The presentation will take place at 7:15 p.m. and reservations for the dinner must be made by Tuesday by calling Candy Knight at 217-257-8484 or Bill Scranton at 217-289-3480.

"I'll talk a little bit about the process I've gone through, as well as some of the challenges," Long said. "We had at least 50-plus military vets that did not have a military marker and that made it a bit difficult to verify other people's information. ... Anyone who may have interest in sharing the story of military family members or an ancestor that they know are buried in the Catholic Cemetery are encouraged to attend."

Nick Draper can be reached at 217-245-6121, ext. 1223, or on Twitter @nick_draper.

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