LONG CREEK - Only the occasional song of a bird broke the silence as Army Sgt. Christopher Turner and Air Force Tech. Sgt. Samantha Diskey carefully opened and refolded the burial flag.
It was part of the ceremony organized Friday to honor Jacob Black, a veteran of the Black Hawk War buried in Florey Cemetery east of Long Creek. The ceremony included members of the Macon County Honor Guard, other members of the Illinois National Guard, re-enactors of the Black Hawk War, civilians and local politicians.
Though a few years ago the honor guard accorded rites for a Civil War veteran, this was the first Black Hawk veteran, Rudy Escobar, honor guard commander, said.
"It's not unusual for us to go to a funeral, but it is unusual to go to one for someone who died more than 150 years ago," said Command Sgt. Maj. John Starbody of the Illinois National Guard.
"It's the last tribute of respect for our fallen comrade," said Brigadier Gen. Ronald Morrow, also with the guard.
Military records indicate that in April 1832, Jacob Black became a member Capt. I.C. Pugh's Company of Mounted Volunteers of the Illinois Militia, enlisting in Decatur. Records also indicate he mustered out of the militia May 27, 1832.
Richard Schachtsiek and Paul Golladay, both of Springfield, and Don Ferricks of Athens, Black Hawk re-enactors, said they'd never before participated in a funeral. But as part of the ceremony, they too fired a volley in Black's honor following the one from the honor guard.
"We are the militia, the true citizen soldier. We came in civilian clothes, often bringing our own weapons," said Schachtsiek as his Black Hawk veteran character.
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Last summer, trustees of Long Creek Township Cemeteries hired a cemetery restoration specialist to help complete work there, said Karole Johnson, secretary. And John Bruder, trustee, researched Black's burial there.
"All the records I found confirmed (Black) was buried in 1852 in Florey Cemetery," Bruder said during the ceremonies.
When Ramon "Jay" Castro, retired Navy Seal, learned that a Black Hawk War veteran was being honored with full military rites, it seemed like almost too much of a coincidence to the sculptor. Following the rites, Castro unveiled a clay model of a seven-foot bronze statue he's creating of Abraham Lincoln for the Black Hawk War Memorial.
According to Castro, in June 1832, Lincoln was given the task of marching with his men from Fort Dixon to Kellogg's Grove, to bury fallen militia members.
"Today, I unveil the sculpture Captain Lincoln-Burial Detail," Castro said in remarks.
"The men of Kellogg's Grove and their captain, Abraham Lincoln, call Jacob Black to a final muster with his fellow soldiers of the Black Hawk War, who are buried north of him at the Blackhawk War Memorial in Stephenson County."
Black's original monument and the newly accorded veteran's monument will now be properly mounted, Johnson said.