Employees and Consumers of Washington Holmes County, Inc. working to honor the veterans by restoring graves at the site of their final resting place.
For Arc Joint Project Coordinator Glen Kraft, the organization’s latest community project is very personal.
“My dad was a veteran and I have a few friends who are veterans,” Kraft said. “Dad was a member of AMVEC and foreign war veterans, and I just grew up with his veteran friends. The pride in what they did was deeply ingrained in me. ”
The Arc Center, which caters to people with a variety of disabilities, offers volunteer opportunities to highlight the abilities of their consumers, and provides an opportunity to give back to their community.
Kraft says the idea for the new project came after meeting with Chipley Mayor Tracy Andrews to find new opportunities to service the program.
“She mentioned that we could consider possible work in the city cemetery, so I decided to take a look,” Kraft said. “I started from Northside Cemetery in Chipley.”
It didn’t take Kraft long to figure out what to focus their efforts on.
“The first thing I noticed when I drove up was the growing graves of veterans, and that’s when I realized it should be a priority,” he said. “I looked on YouTube for how to properly clean gravestones because there are right and wrong ways to care for them. These markers are actually owned by the federal government, and there are recommendations for their care. You have to use certain solutions and brushes ”.
Kraft launched the project – dubbed “Glory to the Graves” – last week along with consumer Arc, who volunteered to help in honor of his father, who served in the U.S. Navy.
Together, the couple cleared the area around the graves, cleared of debris and began to wash away decades of demolition and weather before adding the final touch: the new American flag.
Kraft states that the transformation was more than satisfactory; it was an emotional experience.
“Just to see the difference after we cleaned the tombstones, I cried,” he said. “It’s such a trifle for those who served that made a big difference. This left a visual idea of how much we value their sacrifice. We return these signs to their former glory. If we can do something like that to honor our veterans on their final resting place, it’s all about that. ”
Kraft says Glory to Graves will be an ongoing project, and he hopes to coordinate work in Holmes and Washington counties to work on veterans ’graves in all cemeteries.
For more information or to donate to this project, contact Craft at 850-638-7517, ext. 116.