For Kevin Hulett, current Brown Township trustee, standing in front of the newly refurbished monument to Nathaniel Brown in the Springville Cemetery just after 11 a.m. on Nov. 11, 2020, Veterans Day, it was easy to recognize the importance of the moment as he gave the keynote address.
“This is a big day,” Hulett said. “We’re rededicating a monument that stands for a lot of stuff. It’s not just one family’s plot, it’s not just Brown as a person, it’s a conglomeration of everything that’s happened in this country until now.”
Hulett said it is owed, not just to Brown and his family, but to future generations that the history is persevered and remembered. Cemeteries are resting places for soldiers across the country, each with their own significance.
“They all have a story,” Hulett said. “They tell the history of the community, you just have to come here and read it.”
Most people who’ve served in the military have done so of their own free will. When Nathaniel Brown signed up to serve in the Continental Army at the age of just 14, things were much different than our modern idea of warfare.
“They didn’t fight like we do today,” Hulett said, noting things were much more close quarters given the relative inaccuracy of weapons back then compared to modern firearms. “We would never in our earthly thoughts think of taking a 14-year-old’s volunteerism into battle [today].”
During his time serving, Hulett said, Brown sustained an injury, but it was minor. Given the lack of modern medicine and the musket balls and cannons used during that time, his story is even more remarkable. Brown’s toughness is even more evident, according to Hulett, based on the fact he even made it out to Iowa from the east coast, doing so even before Iowa earned statehood.
The monument, built in 1842, predated the establishment of Arlington National Cemetery, which did not take place until after the Civil War.
Beverly Franks, of the Marion-Linn Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, thanked all of those who had a hand in making the project a reality. She said the project was the work of many different groups, including fellow Daughters of the American Revolution groups, Springville Historical Society, Monuments by Michel and the Springville Cemetery Association.
“I’m very proud of it, and I hope everybody else is, too,” Franks said.