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Volunteers clean up Burlington cemeteries to honor the fallen

Updated: May. 29, 2021 at 9:03 PM EDT
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - Citizens took care of the fallen at Greenmount and Elmwood cemeteries on Saturday by making sure the landscaping looks fit for the soldiers buried there ahead of Memorial Day.

The community mowed, raked, and worked together to bring new life and newfound respect to one of the oldest cemeteries in the state. Instead of a band, or a gun salute, the sound of raking and mowing was heard at cemeteries in Burlington.

Gary de Carolis gives history tours throughout Burlington, and Greenmount Cemetery is one of the stops. It’s the resting grounds for Ethan Allen and most of his family. When a veteran on one of his tours noted the overgrown grass and lack of maintenance, de Carolis said the vet felt disrespected and that he knew he had to do something. “I started to make some emails to the director of parks, and the mayor, and the American Legion, VFW,” he said.

But that didn’t seem to help. Burlington Parks, Recreation, and Waterfront told Channel 3 that they had to prioritize staffing to the places that had the most foot traffic such as athletic fields and beaches. The city also told said they have had a hard time getting applicants for the job, and hope that June will bring about college student applicants.

But de Carolis knew this was something that had to be taken care of ahead of Memorial Day. “This can’t be. The thought of Memorial Day coming and this being in the condition it was in just was sickening. We’re gonna make sure that the veterans know that we do care and that’s what this is all about,” de Carolis said.

At least 25 people showed up to help Saturday. “And you can see it’s all been beautifully groomed by a group of very dedicated wonderful people,” de Carolis said.

Everyone came for their own reasons. “My great grandmother is buried here. I had the time. I like to rake,” said Cheryl Goldstein of Colchester.

“It’s a matter of respect, it’s a matter of tidiness, it’s a matter of history,” said Erik Trinkaus, one of the volunteers.

“To come here and see that it’s being maintained and looks good I’m sure will mean a lot to them,” said David Berard of Shelburne.

“They’re willing to give their life, we can put a day of effort into it,” de Carolis said. He says he couldn’t be more thankful and proud of his community. “Given that Memorial Day is two days away, and to see the effort that people made to make it right for veterans. I’m just -- from the bottom of my heart -- thank you very much.”

There is currently no plan on how to keep the grass maintained for the long term. That’s a problem that ee Carolis says will be up to the city.

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