Escanaba Daily Press
GLADSTONE - After almost 90 years since one of Gladstone's first casualties of World War I was brought back from the battlefields of France to his hometown for burial, a bronze plaque marks the grave-site of Corp. August Mattson.
A dedication ceremony for the plaque was held recently at the Mattson family plot in Fernwood Cemetery in Gladstone.
Work on securing the plaque began almost three years ago when Thure Dahlgren, chaplain of August Mattson American Legion Post 71, realized he missed placing a flag on the soldier's grave in preparation for a Memorial Day celebration in 2008.
"Two years after we bought the bowling alley for our clubrooms, that's when I really got interested in August Mattson," Dahlgren told the group who attended the dedication ceremony. "But that one year when we were putting flags on all the veterans' graves, I totally missed his because the headstone they had there was so small and hard to read. I felt bad and thought I've gotta do something."
To remedy the situation, Dahlgren applied to the Veterans Affairs Office in Escanaba to have a bronze marker prepared and the application was approved by Ann Roman, director of the VA office.
"When we asked why we were denied permission to get the plaque for Mattson, we were told we needed his 214 form (discharge papers)," Dahlgren said. "I explained that they didn't have 214s during World War I but I guess that doesn't matter."
With no resolution forthcoming, it took the generosity of Jeff Waeghe and Ed Walker, co-owners of Skradski Funeral Home in Gladstone, to finally secure the headstone and make sure it was installed.
"I talked with Ed and Jeff about our problem and they said 'Don't worry about it. We'll pay for it.'" Dahlgren said. "Otherwise I don't think we'd ever get one."
Commenting on his willingness to supply the plaque and have it put into place, Waeghe said, "We were more than happy to do it, especially considering who it was for.
"We all owe so much to these soldiers. Some never came back and some came back broken in mind and body."
Looking at the plague with satisfaction, Dahlgren smiled and said, "Now we'll never miss his grave again."