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Navy volunteers clean veterans' graves

Personnel from Naval Station Everett help clean up at Marysville Cemetery in preparation for Memorial Day

 

Christopher Andersson

Petty Officer First Class Jason Funk, from Naval Station Everett, hand washes the gravestone of a veteran at Marysville Cemetery on May 10.

Personnel from Naval Station Everett helped clean up Marysville Cemetery and wash the tombstones of veterans on May 10 in preparation for Memorial Day.

"This is something we do with the first class petty officers. Basically we come out and help out by doing some community service," said Chief Damage Controlman Jose Rosario from the local naval station.

He said this was his second year coming out to help the Marysville Cemetery prepare for Memorial day.

"There' are a lot of veterans from past wars here so we come out , clean the tombstones, hedge them out and help out with the cemetery," he said.

Naval station members help about once a year as a service project, said Beth Opel, family service counselor at the Marysville Cemetery.

They hand-wash the gravestones and remove weeds that are growing too close.

Opel said that the cemetery is run with minimal staff and while the landscaping crew can do basic stuff, they don't always have time to maintain all the graves at the site.

The volunteers help clean the veterans' graves, which is important, especially for buried veterans who no longer have family nearby.

"Not every veteran buried here still has family around in this area," said Opel.

Rosario said that service projects help provide another way for the Navy to help their neighbors.

"We give back to the community in a way other than our job [at the Navy] itself," he said.

Projects also help the Navy members get out and into the community.

"It's kind of different for us to come out from our normal jobs," he said. "It brings everyone closer together and helps build relations between us."

The Marysville Cemetery helps host an annual ceremony for Memorial Day, put on by the Marysville American Legion.

Volunteers like those from Naval Station Everett always make the cemetery]look beautiful, said Opel.

"It helps make the veterans' grave sites look special for Memorial Day," she said.

The morning ceremony typically includes speakers from the American Legion, a local high school band provides military music and an honor guard brings out the flags.

Volunteers like the Boy Scouts also help place flags to further mark veterans at the cemetery.

Christopher Andersson

Senior Chief Petty Officer Adam Keenon from Naval Station Everett removes some of the weeds around the gravestone of a veteran at Marysville Cemetery on May 10.

"The flags are flying and it really is very pretty," said Opel.

She encourages people to come out to pay their respects and see the cemetery during that week, even those that can't come on Memorial Day, she said.

Any volunteers who want to help with the Memorial Day event or help put up flags can contact the Marysville Cemetery office at 360-659-5762, she said.

"We appreciate all the help," said Opel.

Rosario said that helping the cemetery prepare for Memorial Day is also a way for Navy members to remember the veterans who have passed.

"We're coming out to pay our respects to those who have fallen," he said.

"It's a time to show respect to the people who have fallen in past wars and reminds us that we shouldn't take freedom for granted because many had to pay the ultimate sacrifice," said Rosario.

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