UNVEILING OF NAT SIMS’ MONUMENT
Woodmen of the World do Honor to a Departed Brother’s Memory
VERY IMPRESSIVE EXERCISES
Eight Camps Participate in the Exercises
War Comrades of the Departed Attend the Services
(Taken from The Walnut Bureau, June 29, 1900)
The unveiling of the monument to the memory of their departed brother, Nat Sims, by the Woodmen of the World in this city Sunday, was a very impressive exercise and was witnessed by from 1000 to 1200 people, all the neighboring towns being liberally represented.
The possession formed at the opera house and marched to the cemetery in the following order: Avoca Cornet Band, Kirkman Camp, Atlantic Camp, Harlan Camp, Minden Camp, Marne Camp, Lewis Camp, Cumberland Camp, Walnut Camp, Spanish-American War Veterans, parents and friends in carriages.
On reaching the cemetery the Woodmen formed in a circle about the grave while the vast audience secured places as near as possible to witness the impressive and beautiful ritual work of the order. The exercises, of course, were under the direction of Walnut Camp and after the band had rendered “Nearer My God to Thee,” the Council Commander of the camp said:
“Esteemed Sovereigns and Friends: It has been the custom for centuries to commemorate great events and perpetuate grand achievements by the erection of imposing and enduring monuments. We are assembled, today, to dedicate a monument, reared by willing hands and loving hearts, to honor the name and memory of a Sovereign of the Woodmen of the World. It is the fulfillment of an obligation which all Woodmen have taken to protect the good name of each other while living and mark well his grave when dead. Standing upon this hallowed spot we are sad and sorrowful, and we think of our departed Sovereign with tenderness, his goodness we would magnify and his shortcoming we have buried in the dark recesses of forgetfulness.
“We are here to honor his memory and give expression to our respect for those whom he loved best. We are the humble servants to execute as a Woodman, and unto him and not unto us be the praise for his wise fore-thought in conferring upon us the privilege of comforting the bereaved ones for whom he provided. The cold stone which shall mark his last resting place, stands like a faithful sentinel to guard his dust and indicate to the world his devotion to those he loved and to his chosen craft. It tells a story though mute and motionless. It glorifies life; it idealizes death. Passionless, immovable, stern and unyielding, it symbolizes the faith of humanity. The passerby will pause and read the name of a good man and a true Sovereign.
“It will be inspiring to emulate his life, that the passerby may become worthy of such a tribute when earth shall be to his closing eyes a fading shadow, passing away into his future, when his eyes shall be opened to the brightness of the hereafter, which, like a sweet and beautiful vision shall come stealing o’er senses and changing, ever changing, shall have its fruition in a perpetual reality of joy.”
The clerk then placed the pike pole and streamers at the foot of the grave; the watchman and sentry laid branches and a wreath upon the grave.
At the direction of the consul commander the master of ceremonies then advanced and loosened the cover, which, to that time had veiled the monument. The consul commander then advanced to the monument upon which he rapped three times with the beetle and said: “Love, honor, remembrance. Thou anointed! We anoint thy monument; our promises we fulfill. I dedicate this monument to the memory of Sovereign Sims as a tribute to his faithfulness to his vows; erected by the Woodmen of the World. He speaks though he be silent.”
The banker and clerk advanced with wedge, water jug and goblet. The banker strikes the monument with the wedge and says, “Love, honor, remembrance.” The clerk held the goblet and the banker poured water into it, both drank and the clerk gently poured water on the monument when the banker said, “Living, our departed Sovereign accepted a libation of pure water to celebrate his acceptance of the principals of Woodcraft. Dead, we recall his virtues by a libation of pure water” (drinks water); we shower his monument with pure water emblematic of our tears of sorrow [pours water on the monument] and pours back to earth (clerk pours water on the ground) libations to the honor of all deceased Sovereigns. I dedicate this monument to Sovereign Sims, he speaks though he be silent.”
At the conclusion of the ritualistic work, Rev. D. E. Evans, of Lewis delivered an eloquent and heartfelt eulogy upon the deceased, paying high tribute to his character both as a member of the order and a citizen. A brief history of the short life of the departed was also given in which high tribute was paid to the patriotism and love of his country which prompted the deceased to leave home and friends and go forth to the distant island of the seas to do battle for his country and his flag.
The monument is a beautiful one bearing the various insignias of the order and setting forth the name, age and place of death of the departed.
Nat Sims was born just over the line in Pottawattamie county September 29, 1878. Most of his life was spent in that and Cass counties, where he grew to manhood. When the call for troops came to defend the flag in the war with Spain, he enlisted with Co. “M” First Nebraska Volunteer Infantry and it was from wounds received at the battle of Malolus on March 26, 1899, while engaged with his command against the Filipino Insurrectionists, that the deceased died in the hospital at Manila on March 28, two days later. The remains arrived in Walnut and were laid to rest in the cemetery, February 17, 1900 in the grave which is now marked by the beautiful monument which his brother Woodmen have erected to his memory.