A group of veterans on Friday gathered around a small family for a graveside memorial at Lynden Cemetery in Whatcom County.
Four generations have passed since John Henry Smith was alive. He died in 1920 at the age of 87. But he still lives as a legend in his family.
Kent and Tom Holsather said they have been reading about their great-great-grandfather since they were kids.
"We'd go through the trunks and we saw all these artifacts and letters," said Tom Holsather.
The brothers learned that Smith fought in the Civil War, was wounded in battle and fell captive to Confederate soldiers. They also learned he felt great loyalty to his comrades and country.
"He always talked about the 'boys in blue' and the 'angels of freedom,'" said Kent Holsather.
"He was a patriot, obviously. But he wrote about the horrors of war," said Tom.
As proud as they were of their forefather, there was one problem. They family didn't know where Smith was buried.
A 15-year search ended at the Lynden Cemetery. Old library records lead them to an unmarked grave.
"We went through their files, found a list that they had [from] 1935 or '37 with the grave numbers for the veterans, and I found him on there," said Tom.
So on Friday, Smith's resting place was finally given a grave marker. The Holsathers said this is a gift to their descendants.
"Those generations in the future who will come to this grave, and reflect on where they come from, and where they're going," said Tom.