Illinois

Illinois students give Civil War vets 'their identity back'

In this Nov. 15, 2015 photo, Harold Schook an Air Force veteran who every year at this time plants small American flags near area veterans' graves examines five new Civil War-era gravestones belonging to soldiers at the Odell Township Cemetery in Odell, Ill. High school students in Odell discovered the names of several Civil War veterans whose gravestones were battered by decades of rain, wind, snow and pollution and were replaced with new ones. "These kids gave these men their identity back," said Schook. (Joy Butler/Pontiac Daily Leader via AP)

In this Nov. 15, 2015 photo, Harold Schook an Air Force veteran who every year at this time plants small American flags near area veterans' graves examines five new Civil War-era gravestones belonging to soldiers at the Odell Township Cemetery in Odell, Ill. High school students in Odell discovered the names of several Civil War veterans whose gravestones were battered by decades of rain, wind, snow and pollution and were replaced with new ones. "These kids gave these men their identity back," said Schook. (Joy Butler/Pontiac Daily Leader via AP)  (The Associated Press)

Visitors who come to the Odell Township Cemetery in north-central Illinois this weekend will see something that wasn't around last Memorial Day: The names of men who fought in the Civil War.

Thanks to the scientific detective work of a group of Pontiac Township High School students, five old illegible headstones have been replaced with new ones.

The students had been studying the effects of acid rain on headstones and local veteran Harold Schook contacted their teacher to ask if they might try to figure out what was once carved into the grave markers but had disappeared over the decades.

Their work led a federal agency to order new grave markers, the last three of which arrived about a month ago.