istory has says that when a loved one passes, we memorialize them in the ways of our ancestors. This could mean a burial at sea, cremation or an earthly burial. For many years, families have set asisde areas to bury their loved ones. In 1786, one of the first public burial grounds was opened and since then burial sites have been opened all over the world. Some sites were opened for the commnities religious belief, some sites opened for the racial status of the community and other sites were opened for th social status of the community. As times have changed these barriers have been torn down. Many original burial sites have long since been closed, changed locations, been overgrown or misused.
The Cemetery Restoration project was started and is working to help find means, supporters, volunteers and funds to restore and maintain some of the many cemeteries across this nation, that have been misused, overgrown and forgotten. The initial project beginning took start in Louisville, Ky with these first three cemeteries:
These cemeteries, and many other cemeteries have fallen in disarray due to not enough funds to purchase equipment to maintain the properties. Not enough people that care enough or know about the conditions of the cemeteries, to come out and volunteer their time to help with the upkeep. Some people may feel that it is a cememtery and there is no need to keep it up. But there is a need and there are those that still do care. In an interview in June of 2013 from WDRB, someone that does care spoke out:
"my father was in the Marine Corps and he fought for this country, in Central America," said Eva Borders.
Borders said her decorated military father is now covered in weeds and brush in his final resting place.
"There are so many military people that are in here (Shardien Cemetery) that died for us for our freedom and this is how we repay them,"
Borders is one of the many who have become incensed with the condition of Schardien Cemetery. She also stated, it's a dog park where dogs run free.
"How would you feel if it were your mother and father who were buried in here and you came and saw a dog lifting his leg doing their business on your mother or father's grave?"
As a veteran this hits home. As a human this hits home. These were mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, my brothers and sisters in arms. They put all honor in this country to put their lives on the line to protect our freedom, we should be willing to honor them in sacrificing a few hours a month to help upkeep their final resting place. I began this effort because I am that family member. That memeber that saw the grave of Eliza Tevis over grown with weds and trees. Family members that were veterans, and their stone were leaning and stained. With the help of a large group of people in the Newburg/Petersburg area, Forrest Home Cemetery has overcome a lot of issues, but there are more challenges to fight.
2017 Greenwood received a main flag.
ovember 11th has been set aside as Veterans Day. On this day, we honor all veterans; men and women, those that are serving, those that have have served and those that have gone on to their final resting place. In designated military cemcteries, flags are placed at each and every gravesite. But in what are known as private cemteries, those that are managed by non-military organizations, family cemeteries on private property, cemeteries ran by local churches, not all of the veterans that are lain to rest in them are not all given this honor. Many veterans may not have a military headstone or any other marker to show that they did serve. These are the veterans the flags of honor program would like to honor. These are the veterans that need to be recognized for their service as well.
The "Flags of Honor" started in 2012 in the Petersburg/Newburg Cemetery, were there was roughly 80 known veteran grave sites counted and honored. Since the start, Greenwood cemetery was added to the list. The first year at Greenwood there was well over 200 known veteran grave sites honored with a flag placed. With the sad condition that Greenwood has fallen into, it has been very hard to find veteran grave sites, but we estimate that there are more than 500 known veterans buried there and they need to be honored. In 2016, we were able to place flags in Shardein cemetery with over 40 known veteran grave sites found there.
The "Flags of Honor" program will be working to place two types of flags in cemeteries.
1) At every cemetery where there is a veteran buried, there should be a main flag flying to honor this burial place all year long. We would like to have that flag placed there.
2) Each year we would like to place a flag on each grave site of veterans that have been layin to rest in the cemeteries across this country.
n April 15th 2014 NABVETS Kentucky started a major project to change the way we looked at military veterans lain to rest. "Eagles at Rest" restoration groundbreaking was held at the Forest Home Cemetery. The "Eagles at Rest" restoration project came about from seeing veteran headstones, that are located in what are considered, "private cemeteries", that have been neglected and/or forgotten. IE: Sunk into the ground, leaning, dirty from mold and dirt or grown over by underbrush and trees. With a motto of "leave no one behind" in mind, NABVETS Kentucky has partnered with the Department of Veteran Affairs, local community leaders, cemetery committees and Evans Monument Company to change the way the veteran headstones and legacy are looked upon. The "Eagles at Rest" project has taken shape and will be rolling across the Jefferson County area in Louisville, KY. building on a head of steam to move across Kentucky, Region IV and Nationally.
I have heard the motto used in several arenas. Some take it to heart and some just seem to say it to feel a part of. "Leave no one behind." When I hear this it brings to mind some many mottos and sayings that have been used for many years. When it comes to your family or best friends, there is a bond that forms that no one or nothing can come between it. In some cultures you hear, "I am my brother's keeper." Your brother/sister may not be a blood related person, but you will do whatever it takes to make sure that this person is always on the same level that you are or better. You will share whatever you have with them. If not family, they will still treat your family as if it were theirs. Your mom is their mom; your dad is their dad. Your table is their table. In the military you're assigned to a squad, platoon, company, and unit from day one. On a smaller level, there is "Buddy System." You are partnered up with one person that you look out for as well as they look out for you. You watch their back and they watch your back. We see these relationships last for years and throughout many organizations. Unfortunately, as time passes on, an end must come to all things. When the final race has been run for a friend, many may that knew them come out to pay their last respects. One saying that I have heard at some of the wakes is, "It's a shame that we seem to always see each other at wakes and funerals," or most recently I heard a group talking and one said, "the last time I seen him (the deceased) was at another wake." We say this, but how can we change it? What do we do about it? What can we do to make it right?
How do we make sure that we are not leaving any one behind? What is the best way to remember those that have given there all, served in many ways and for some that protected our freedom? NABVETS Kentucky has begun a project to reverse a lost relationship with many that have been laid to rest. The "Eagles at Rest" veterans headstone project is a start to give honor to those that we have left behind, by not caring for the final resting place of our brothers and sisters in arms.
When you see a veterans memorial cemetery that is taken care of, you see all the stones are clean, standing upright, not covered by brush or trees and in formation. They are dress right dressed and covered down. No matter how you look at these headstones, you will see them in straight lines just as you would see soldiers in formation. In some cases, families of veterans would rather have their family member buried in a private or more local cemetery. Maybe the family may not know that there are cemeteries that veterans can be laid to rest in. Some cemeteries may not have military sections set aside for veterans. So the Dress right Dress order may not be used. Some private cemeteries may not set the headstones according to the proper standards. In some cases the cemetery may not have a caregiver or committee to look after the cemetery grounds and headstone upkeep. Maybe the family of the veteran has expired and there is no family left to speak for or keep up the veteran's final resting place. NABVETS Kentucky wants to be that voice. NABVETS Kentucky wants to help serve the community cemeteries. NABVETS Kentucky does not want to leave any of our brothers and sisters behind. There is work that needs to be done. There are brothers and sisters that are being left behind. Please join us in correcting the wrong.
|No one's final resting place should look like this?|
NABVETS Kentucky wants them to all look like this.
Before and After photos of headstones.
Military headstones at the Forrest Home cemetery in Newburg were cleaned and reset to be straightened or set back to proper height by Evans monument company in 2015.
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Rodney W. Crockett