Not far outside Bloomington, Indiana, is a small country cemetery. Like many of the cemeteries in Indiana, the stone carvers’ unique work can be found on the gravestones. The Mt. Ebal Cemetery has two such stones marking the graves of two soldiers—one who fought in the Civil War and one who fought in World War I.
JULY 6, 1846
SEPT. 14, 1930
OCT. 20, 1844
MAY 17, 1943
CO. B. IND VOL INF.
The William Meadows gravestone has an inset with a bas-relief of a Union soldier carved into it. Even without knowing what war Meadows fought in the skill and detail of the stone carver makes it clear that it was the Civil War. Meadows stands as if he is ready to march into battle, clutching his Springfield rifle, bayonet hanging from his belt, and his Haversack and bed roll on his back. Meadows died just five months short of his 99th birthday and the one memory he wished to preserve for all to know and see was his service to his country—carved into his gravestone as an image and recording the unit in which he served.
The bas-relief carving of the World War I soldier on the front of the gravestone most likely represents James Butcher himself. In the sculpture, the solider appears to be marching forward possibly through water that is splashing up on both sides of him. He is wearing the uniform of the day—steel helmet with chin strap, the brown woolen uniform with the knee breeches and carrying a rifle with the bayonet attached. Peaking up from his shoulders is the rolled up anti-gas cape and loosely hanging around his neck is a respirator made necessary by the gas that was used during WW I. The determined look on his face expresses a soldier ready to take the fight to the enemy.
On this day, we give thanks to all those soldiers who served and protected America and most especially to those who gave the ultimate sacrifice.