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Cemetery tour marks Armed Forces Day

May 20, 2012
By JACKIE STARK - Journal Staff Writer ( , The Mining Journal

MARQUETTE - Hundreds of stories lie within the Holy Cross Cemetery on Wright Street in Marquette, and a small crowd listened to just a few of them during the Marquette Regional History Center's guided tour of local veterans' graves Saturday.

The walk - which happened on Armed Forces Day - also served as way to honor some veterans buried in Holy Cross who have been overlooked in the past. American flags were placed at the sides of each grave visited during the walk.

"We've discovered and are honoring veterans who were not recognized," said Rosemary Michelin, research librarian at the history center, as she stood next to the graves of the Byrne brothers.

Article Photos

A crowd gathers around as Marquette Regional History Center Research Librarian Rosemary Michelin tells the story of Thomas Beaudry during a guided tour of the Holy Cross Cemetery. Beaudry was a Marquette man who served in Company L of the Army’s 34th Michigan Infantry during the Spanish-American War and was deployed to Cuba. (Journal photo by Jackie Stark)

Robert and Samuel Byrne both fought during the American Civil War. But what makes their story unique is who they served: Robert for the union and Samuel for the confederacy.

The brothers brought to life an old adage of the war: it pitted brother against brother.

Both men survived the war and eventually made their home in Marquette.

Donald and John Young, another pair of brothers, were also recognized during the walk, representing a family that suffered severely during WWII. Both men, as well as their brother-in-law, were killed during the war.

After the deaths of the Young brothers, the Army and Marines began sending care packages back to the men's mother, who had sent them overseas for her sons.

The pain of seeing the packages continue to return to her doorstep became too much for the Young's mother, and her daughter, Amy, eventually told their postman to stop bringing the boxes back.

The tour also took the group to the grave of Michael Contway, a corporal in the 113th Army infantry unit during WWI.

Michelin read part of a letter he wrote to his family, which they received in January, 1919. In the letter, Contway - who was serving in France at the time - told his family he was doing well.

They were shocked when they received notice he had died before they had even received his letter. Contway died Dec. 28, 1918 of pneumonia.

The tour ended at the graveside of Benjamin Larabee, a soldier who was accidentally killed in Vietnam by an airplane propeller four months before his tour of duty was up.

A flag was placed at Larabee's grave by a family member before Ken Morin, a member of Little Lake's American Legion Post 349, played "Taps."

Jackie Stark can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 242. Her email address is



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