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Trusted local news leader for Prescott area communities since 1882
3:44 AM Tue, Sept. 25th

Vet gets headstone just in time for Memorial Day

Charles Bauer and his two sons-in-law, Frank Lambertin and Joseph Cunningham, all served in the military at Prescott's former Fort Whipple. Bauer's wife was a laundress at Fort Whipple, which now is a veterans hospital.

They all rest next to each other in a family plot at Prescott's historic Citizens Cemetery along east Sheldon Street.

While the others have military headstones, the only thing that has marked Cunningham's grave during the past century has been a tiny metal marker.

Thanks to the volunteer caretakers with the Yavapai Cemetery Association, Cunningham will have a brand new military gravestone just in time for the annual Memorial Day Observance at 9 a.m. Monday at the cemetery.

The cemetery association also obtained a military headstone for Lambertin within the past year. County government employees install the headstones because the county owns the cemetery.

The federal government provides free headstones for veterans, but only after applicants provide proof of enlistment through military records. Cemetery Association President Pat Atchison has done most of the research and application work.

After only a few years, 10 veterans now have headstones at the cemetery. Atchison doesn't know of any remaining veterans without gravestones, but she said she won't be surprised if people find more, since many of the cemetery's graves have no markers, including at least two more members of the Bauer family.

Bauer was a longtime musician for the fort and the Prescott Brass Band, which he led for a time. He came to the U.S. from Germany. He served in the military for three decades, ending his career at Fort Whipple from 1892 to 1895. He died in Prescott at the age of 59 in 1899.

Lambertin also was a longtime Army musician who came to this country from Germany. He served for 20 years through 1895. He died in Prescott at the age of 61 in 1913.

Cunningham died of an opium overdose while serving as a private at Fort Whipple in 1903. His obituary said his death was accidental.

Unlike some obituaries of the day, the obits for these men were quite short.

But each Memorial Day, people gather at Citizens Cemetery to remember these veterans and make true the words on Bauer's gravestone: "Gone but not forgotten."

The Memorial Day program is a history lesson in itself, since it closely follows the program from 1910.

The Cemetery Association encourages people to bring flowers for graves Monday, as well as their own chairs. People cannot park vehicles in the cemetery, but ample parking is available nearby.

The program will include musical selections by bagpiper Denise Robinson, the Brass Ensemble directed by Karl Kaub, and soloist Marcie Matthies.

The Honor Guard will include the American Legion Post 6 Honor Guard, Camp Verde Cavalry, Arizona Rough Riders Troop 1A and local veterans groups.

Other program participants include Very Rev. Jack May of the Anglican Church, Superior Court Judge Rhonda Repp, Prescott Police Officer Doug Hawk, Tri City College Prep High School Director Mary Ellen Halvorson, Chaplain Lewis Burns of the Order of the Purple Heart Chapter 608, Sharlot Hall Museum Archivist Ryan Flahive, Prescott Mayor Rowle Simmons, and former Arizona Senate president Ken Bennett, who will return as master of ceremonies.

Following the custom in early years, representatives from various community organizations will participate in the ceremony.

Citizens Cemetery dates to the founding of Prescott in 1864, and it contains the graves of more than 2,700 Yavapai County pioneers.

Contact the reporter at jdodder@prescottaz.com