Meet the man that tends to the graves of Vt’s Veterans Cemetery - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Meet the man that tends to the graves of Vermont’s Veterans Cemetery

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RANDOLPH CENTER, Vt. -

Bob Durkee (III) walks through the quiet rows at the Vermont Veterans Cemetery in Randolph Center as he has done for the last 27 years.

"Every year you gain a little bit -- you could say love -- for the ground here. And I just enjoy what I do here, I enjoy making it look nice for people when they come visit the cemetery," Durkee said.

Although Durkee has been the grounds foreman since the cemetery opened in 1993 -- he says for him, this isn't just a job.

"When people come to the cemetery they are at their most down moment -- they have lost a friend or a loved one. And for them to come in the gate and see that it's a beautiful pristine place and you take the sadness off their face and give them a smile -- that, that makes me feel real good," Durkee said.

He says Mother Nature takes her toll on the 3,000 graves -- but you can't tell. Durkee says he spends as much time as needed -- to make sure the grounds are perfect. And that extra work doesn't go unnoticed.

"It's just a beautiful place to come and meditate and hang out with your loved ones that are missing," Kelli Ross said.

Kelli Ross' father -- a 32 year air force veteran -- passed away in 2003 and is buried in the cemetery.

"The groundskeepers here are fantastic. There is never any litter here, it is always pristine, it's always kept up. Any trees that fall, they come and take care of them right away. I like to come and read him a book or hang out with him and stuff -- and just enjoy it," Ross said.

Durkee says on a typical day -- a handful of visitors will come pay their respects. But on Veterans Day -- he estimates more than 100 people stopped by.

"It's just a military day, and everyone should at least honor somebody in some way and fly your American flag and believe in what your military does," said Ross.

Although Monday was a day for the nation to thank and honor those men and women -- Durkee says this job has allowed him to do that every day.

"I didn't serve, and I feel that this is my way of paying back to the veterans and thanking them," said Durkee. "Even though it's a job, it's more than a job to me -- it's my way of thanking them and their families for everything that they do for us."

A man who dedicated his career -- to help lay to rest those who dedicated their lives.

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