Jerry Klinger
Shaping the Future by Remembering the Past

Colonel Marcus Spiegel, Louis Farrakahn and Pro-Palestinian Hamas Supporters

Chicago, Illinois

Col. Marcus M. Spiegel 120th Ohio Volunteer Infantry

Jewish Abolitionist

“…I decided to dedicate my life to the ideals of progress and freedom. 

August Bondi – Fifth Kansas Cavalry, Union Army –Jewish Abolitionist

“Satanic Jews have infected the whole world with poison and deceit.”

 “The same Jewish People that say they are our friends were the principal architects of the Slave-Trade…”

Minister Louis Farrakhan – Nation of Islam


December 2020, the Jewish American Society for Historic Preservation received an email from Francis (Frank) Jastrzembski, founder of Shrouded Veterans.

The mission of Shrouded Veterans is to honor, with respect and dignity, the services of soldiers who have paid the last full measure of devotion and whose neglected gravestones are missing or damaged — hence “Shrouded” in the name.



Peter Kovacs Rosenbluth recommended that I get in contact with Jerry Klinger. I’m trying to raise funds to add a secondary marker to Colonel Marcus Spiegel’s grave in Chicago. Spiegel was a Jewish officer killed during the American Civil War… His current headstone is badly weathered and will only continue to deteriorate until it’s unrecognizable.”

I knew Peter well. He is a Hungarian Jewish film documentarian. I had helped him with his documentary, “The Jewish 48’ers in the American Civil War”.

The documentary told the stories of the Jewish Hungarian freedom fighters from the failed revolutions in Europe in 1848, who escaped to America to fight to end Slavery.

One of the incredible stories was of August Bondi. I had recently completed a historical marker for Bondi in Salinas, Kansas. The Bondi project was completed against the background of strident Black antisemitism fomented by Minister Louis Farrakhan of the National of Islam.

JASHP and Shrouded Veterans joined together to honor the memory of a Jewish Union officer, Marcus Spiegel. Spiegel paid the ferryman with his life to cross the River Styx, the River of Death, to end Slavery. JASHP agreed to fund the funerary stone project for him.

Many people recognize the name Spiegel. Marcus’ brother Joseph, over the course of a long life, founded the giant direct mail order catalog house – Spiegel’s. Not many recognize the name Marcus Spiegel.

Marcus’ life ended at age 35. He was killed during a Confederate River ambush on the Red River near Snaggy Point. The Colonel and many Ohioans died in the fight.  Colonel Marcus was amongst the highest-ranking Jews in the Union Army. He was being considered for General when he was killed.

The Colonel was hastily buried along the shores of the river. In time, river flooding washed the grave site and the Colonel’s remains away. There was no body to be brought home. A fading soft stone cenotaph in Chicago’s Jewish Graceland Cemetery overlooked several of his family who are buried there. An empty space between the foot stones, symbolically, was left for the Colonel. Colonel Spiegel’s memory and sacrifice was again washing away.

Frank contacted Jean Soman, the great, great granddaughter of Colonel Spiegel, with his proposal to honor the Colonel. Jean had spent many years collating and editing the Colonel’s remarkable story.

To place a stone in a private grave site, permission is needed.

Jean readily gave us permission and supported the effort.

Text and design for a memorial stone, including an image of the Colonel, was created. Contractual arrangements and funding were completed for what should have been a few months to placement.

What should have been a little time turned into an odyssey of COVID, supply chain issues, time, delays, and fraud. The stonemason, one of the biggest and oldest in Chicago, did not deliver. Repeated promises and reworked contracts at higher prices of course only resulted in further delays.

The problems continued. In time, we learned the stonemason had defrauded us and hundreds of other customers seeking to place memorials for their loved ones. The money was taken. The attorney general of Illinois became involved. Time continued to drag on. Years passed because the legal system was taking care of the problem, only…they did not.

JASHP could not go to another stonemason because the AG told us not to complicate the problem until they could act. If the AG acted it became a mystery.  Nothing happened.

Three months ago, JASHP wrote off the initial, overly expensive memorial costs and went to a new stonemason. Monumental Art Works completed the work, beautifully, professionally and without delay. The memorial stone was placed in April 2024.

Completing the memorial for Colonel Marcus Spiegel was very important to JASHP, to Shrouded Veterans, to the Colonel’s family and to the stone mason and crews.  The effort was important to us for different reasons, not just doing the right thing.  We recognize few “cultural tourists” will see the Colonel’s honored memorial site.  That was not important.

For Shrouded Veterans the long journey to honor an American soldier who gave everything he could as an American to end Slavery was a mission. To Ms. Soman, to honor her family and to acknowledge the role Jewish Americans, like her great, great grandfather, was personally very important. To the stonemason and ground’s people involved in its placement a story was shared with me.

The owner of the company told me on their mantel is a picture of a young man in a Union army uniform. They are very proud of that young man. He was their great, great grandfather and served in the Illinois Infantry, doing his part to end the blight of Slavery.

To JASHP, all the reasons above were also very important and for another reason.

The US Census of 1860 indicated that Jews constituted a small percentage of the US population. Yet, during the Civil War, an estimated 7,000 Jews fought and served to end the scourge of Slavery. Disproportional to the Union population, more Jews earned and received the Congressional Medal of Honor than any group of Americans who fought during that terrible fratricidal war to end evil.

Today, Minister Louis Farrakhan of the Nation of Islam antisemitic, hate-filled heart continues to spew the false narratives about Jews, Slavery and now Israel.

His message resonates with the Pro-Palestinian Hamas supporters.

Completing the stone of memory, of honor and dignity for Colonel Spiegel, was an American Jewish duty.

May 4, 2024, is the 160th Jahrzeit of Colonel Spiegel. Lighting a small candle, perhaps saying Kaddish, is appropriate.

About the Author
Jerry is the president and founder of the Jewish American Society for Historic Preservation, He is the son of Survivors of Buchenwald and Bergen Belsen. He is a former Yeshivah student and served with the IDF in the Sinai. He is the author of hundreds of articles in publications ranging from the Jerusalem Post to the Prairie Connection to the San Diego Jewish World. Jerry is frequently interviewed on T.V. and Radio about the American Jewish experience. The Jewish American Society for Historic Preservation has completed projects in 43 US. States and in 8 countries. Over 7,000,000 people annually benefit from one of JASHP's efforts. JASHP has completed over 25 projects in and for Israel ranging from the restoration and preservation of the disgracefully deteriorated grave site of Shlomo Cohen, the composer of the Hativah, to the S.S. Exodus and more. November 29, 2022, Netanya: JASHP completed the first-ever historical memorial to the central birthing event of the modern state of Israel - the U.N. Partition Resolution. JASHP is presently working towards another first for Israel, a tribute sculpture honoring the Women of the IDF.
Related Topics
Related Posts