The condition of grave sites for more than 100 fallen soldiers shocked Lubbock veterans. So, they took it upon themselves to do something to improve the conditions of the graves.
For the past three years, the VFW has worked to properly mark veteran's graves at the Lubbock City Cemetery.
Veteran Carl Knott found the grave of his old, war friend among 174 other unmarked, collapsing veteran graves. "For him to be buried down here in his Purple Heart, came here, got killed protecting our country, broke my heart" Knott said.
Just like the call to serve his country, Knott was spurred into action again - this time, to make sure the service of these fallen soldiers is not forgotten. "This is pitiful I said, isn't there some way that we might get markers for those boys headstones?"
Before the VFW got involved, the grave sites had virtually no headstones, and the ground was pocked with sinkholes. The graves are not new, but they may look that way. The veterans were buried in something similar to cardboard boxes which caused the graves to sink. Thanks to the VFW, they have been filled in with new dirt for a more honorable and presentable grave site.
The county originally marked each grave with a single piece of paper, mounted behind a piece of glass on a stake. "Well, then they come through here with lawn mowers, and they get knocked over, and the biggest percentage of them had no maker of any kind" Knott explains.
Volunteers identified the graves by using a county list. Sylvia Chapa, who works for the cemetery, matched each site with a name. "We went upon ourselves and filled out an application, sent it in, and explained what was going on" Chapa says.
If a veteran's family applies for a headstone, the federal government will provide one free of charge. In this case, no family is available, however, the story persuaded the government to get involved anyway and provided these veterans with a free marble headstone.
"Now, we are able to walk out there and see who's a veteran by just looking at the monuments" Chapa said about the new marble headstones scattered across the cemetery.
Of the 174 grave sites, the team has provided head stones for 45 veterans, so far. Along with headstones, the veterans hope to raise the funds to add a brick at the Lubbock Area Veteran's Memorial for each fallen soldier.
The Veterans of Foreign Wars is taking donations.
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