Wasioja gets visit from President Lincoln

Dale Blanshan delivers a Veterans Day address as President Abraham Lincoln at the Wasioja Baptist Church on Sunday.

WASIOJA — A chill wind kept crowds at bay Sunday for a remembrance ceremony for area men killed during the Civil War.

President Abraham Lincoln, portrayed by Dale Blanshan, stood tall and regal next to the pulpit in the Wasioja church and regaled the couple dozen people with tales of the loyalty, honor and commitment of the American soldier.

"It is the young men who leave their farms and their fields and their factories to fight," Lincoln said.

Veterans provided a color guard, and the crowd sang the national anthem.

Lincoln spoke of the sacrifices of the 100 seminarians, farmers and tradesmen from Wasioja who heeded his call-to-arms seeking 75,000 men.


Don Smith, organizer of Friends of Wasioja, said the community has a storied Civil War history.

"It's important that we focus on not just the Civil War but all veterans," he said.

Lincoln told the crowd about standing on Cemetery Ridge, where the battle of Gettysburg of 1863 was fought and 8,000 men died, and giving his now-famed Gettysburg Address.

"Even as we were there, the graves were open and you could see evidence that their bodies were being deposited," he said.

But by the time of Lincoln's second inaugural address, the war was winding down and hopes rose for a time of peace.

"I was thinking of course" of how to put the two broken halves of the country back together, Lincoln said.

Some asked, he said, why the war must drag on so long. And he answered that perhaps for each drop of blood shed by lash of slavery humankind must answer with a drop of blood in battle.

Lincoln told the crowd, that he implored his fellow countrymen to do everything possible to find a just and lasting peace. We should honor the dead, he said, by caring for those who return from battle, by caring for the widows and orphans of war and by taking up the banner of the fallen.


Dave Hanson said there are pavers available at the Wasioja memorial to honor war dead from the Civil War. About 400 from Dodge County served during the Civil War. To date, 92 pavers have been sold at $200 apiece (donation forms are available at the seminary memorial in Wasioja).

"There's still 28 spaces left. This is hallowed ground, as you know, for the Civil War," he said.

An all-veterans memorial is also being built in Dodge Center, and Bill Ketchum said there are three ways people can help fund the project. Pavers are $300 to honor a veteran of any branch of the military from any era. Granite benches are $2,000. Donations are also accepted (call 374-6049).

The Dodge Center memorial include a 7-foot-tall granite block with a 5-foot bronze eagle.

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