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Graves of Minnesota's Civil War soldiers will be marked with flags

WILLMAR -- Gov. Dayton's Civil War Commemoration Task Force will honor 150 soldiers by placing special flags at each of their graves beginning Memorial Day.

Flags will be placed at graves in four or five cemeteries throughout Minnesota, including Ripley Cemetery in Litchfield, said Rep. Dean Urdahl, co-chair of the task force, in a telephone interview Thursday.

With the help of American Legion posts and Veterans of Foreign Wars posts, the task force has located the 150 graves and will continue to search for others, putting out flags as they identify the more graves of Civil War soldiers.

"We have various estimates of 10- to 15,000 buried in Minnesota," Urdahl said.

Their goal is to eventually recognize and honor all of Minnesota's buried Civil War veterans.

"Minnesota Civil War soldiers, who served their nation and swore to uphold the constitution dutifully during a tumultuous time in our nation's history, deserve to be remembered," Secretary of State Mark Ritchie said in a news release Thursday.

The Task Force will also hold a re-dedication ceremony on Monday for the grave of Lt. Oakes at Oakland Cemetery in St. Paul. Lt. Oakes was one of the only four soldiers born in Minnesota who were killed during the Civil War. This weekend marks the 150th anniversary of his death. The task force will fly a larger version of their specially designed flag at Oakland Cemetery.

"Hundreds of thousands Americans died fighting the Civil War. Even though the war was 150 years ago, we must never forget those who sacrificed to preserve our union," Urdahl said in the release. "These flags and our efforts are a small step to remember all those who served."