BEEVILLE, Texas — Memorial Day is this weekend, a time to reflect and honor the sacrifice made by those who died defending our country.
Several groups spend the weeks ahead of Memorial Day sprucing up veterans’ graves.
Like many Coastal Bend cemeteries, Beeville's Glenwood Cemetery is the final resting place for many veterans.
Their stone monuments are now ready for visitors this Memorial Day, thanks to a group of volunteers who consider the cemetery a friend.
“So many of these gravestones haven't been touched in years,” Jesus Soto said. “It's just a shame.”
Soto spent a recent Saturday morning volunteering, something he’d done before. He’d volunteered for the U.S. Army in 1979, starting a 25-year career in uniform.
“I was willing to give up my life for this country,” Soto said.
That's why Soto spent a Saturday sprucing up Glenwood Cemetery.
As he carefully edged around stones, Soto took a moment to reflect every time he passes a veteran's final resting place.
“Just to show respect,” Soto said of his gesture. “Some of these headstones haven't been visited in years so I pay my respects to them.”
Soto’s efforts were part of a much larger community effort, spearheaded by one woman.
“Miss Donna is doing an outstanding job trying to keep this cemetery cleaned and mowed,” Soto said.
Miss Donna is Donna Richmond, founder of Friends of Glenwood Cemetery. Once a month, she leads a group of volunteers on a workday.
This workday’s mission was to get Glenwood’s veterans ready for Memorial Day.
“I just had to come over here and focus on them to get the cemetery looking good from those that will come see these veterans that are buried here,” Richmond said.
Some of those graves had been lost to time, like the one belonging to Lewis Fox, a World War II veteran who passed away in 1984.
Fox’s marker is one of many uncovered by the Friends of Glenwood.
“His stone was completely covered up,” Richmond said of Fox. “We had the honor and privilege of uncovering and cleaning up his burial plot.”
Finding veterans' graves isn't why Richmond started the Friends of Glenwood Cemetery, but now that she's started, she won't rest until every resting place is accounted for.
“I love the veterans that fought and died in wars so I can come out here,” Richmond said.
If you'd like to help, the Friends of Glenwood Cemetery hold workdays the third Saturday of every month.
Contact Veterans In Focus reporters: Greg Chandler at email@example.com and Pat Simon at firstname.lastname@example.org