ROSCOMMON – On Sunday, June 4 at 2 p.m. the Brothers of General Orlando M. Poe
Camp 444, Department of Michigan, Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War (SUVCW) will perform the “Last Veteran Buried in the County Ceremony” for William Erestin Kemp, Jr. at Roscommon Township Cemetery in Houghton Lake.
Mr. Kemp is the last known Union Civil War Veteran to be buried in Roscommon County when he was tragically killed in an automobile accident in 1928.
Mr. Kemp was a member of Company C, 1st New York Veteran Cavalry, and saw action in operations in the Shenandoah Valley towards the end of the war.
The significance of recognizing Roscommon County’s last living connection to the American Civil War, ultimately relates to the gratitude and reverence of the sacrifice of American Veterans of all conflicts.
Camp 444 Graves Registration Officer Kenny Jones, a retired Veteran himself said the ceremony is about honoring the many fathers, brothers or sons that didn’t make it home and are buried in an unmarked grave leaving loved ones with questions they cannot answer.
“It is because not far from where we are honoring Private Kemp is the grave of my Uncle Louis Irelan who died a month after the Normandy Landing, and it was several years later he was reinterned in Roscommon Village Cemetery leaving behind a young son with almost no memories of his dad,” Jones said.
Roscommon Township Clerk Carie Milburn highlighted the importance of honoring American Veterans from the local community’s perspective.
“It is important to remember what our veterans have sacrificed and continue to sacrifice for our Country. To offer respect for a Civil War veteran, William E. Kemp, through a ceremony like this is a way our community can show its patriotism and show our youth ways to remember the legacy of Veterans’ sacrifice. We appreciate the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War for organizing and performing the ceremony and appreciate all they do to help us honor our veterans.”
The ceremony will provide the public a window into the past of the ceremonies and rituals of the Civil War veterans of the Grand Army of the Republic. Additionally, the General Orlando M. Poe Camp 444 Honor Guard will be attired in Union Army Engineer and Infantry uniforms.
The public is invited and highly encouraged to attend, and to bring chairs with them if they would like to be seated during the event.