I am a volunteer helping with the restoration of the Jewish Graceland Cemetery. It is a privately-owned cemetery located near the intersection of Clark Street and Irving Park in Chicago — just north of Wrigley Field. The cemetery, which was founded in 1851, fell into disrepair over the past 10-15 years and is now under new ownership. The new owner is attempting to restore the cemetery and I have been helping out since fall of 2007.
The cemetery is currently closed during the restoration.
When I was last there in late May, I literally stumbled upon the gravesite of a Union Army veteran of the Civil War. His name was Simon Bournstine and he was an immigrant from Poland. I did some online research and found he was born in Warsaw, Poland in 1844 and immigrated to the United States in 1855 and became a citizen. When the Civil War broke out in 1861, Simon enlisted at the age of 17. He was a private in the 22nd Regiment of the Ohio Volunteer Infantry. His unit saw extensive action in the western theater of the Civil War including the Vicksburg campaign. Simon survived the war and was honorably discharged in August 1865.
That’s all we know of him.
Simon somehow made it to Chicago and passed away in 1910.
Anyway, in May I found his military marker as I was cleaning away weeds and tree stumps.
Today I came back to the cemetery and brought several American flags with me. I placed a flag at Simon’s gravesite, cleaned off his marker again, gave him my best [former] Boy Scout salute and then took this picture. As the grandson, son, nephew and stepfather of veterans and soldiers, I have too much respect for them to let their deeds go unnoticed. And veterans should always have a flag.
If any of Simon’s descendants happen to read this weblog, he’s doing fine!