J.S. Clark Cemetery was more of an eyesore than a place for veterans to rest in dignity, until the community stepped in. Family members of veterans remember the cemetery as overrun with trash, weeds, and defaced headstones.
“Every Memorial Day brings memories,” said Woody Staten, a Marine who served 4 active years, and 17 years in reserve.
There’s a spirit of pride behind every flag, every wreath, and every bouquet of flowers that stand beside the gravestones of war veterans at J.S. Clark cemetery.
“They are veterans who served this country. Gave their lives,” said Staten, who’s in awe of the more than 100 gravestones that are marked with American flags.
“It touched my heart,” said Deborah Smith.
Smith says this Memorial Day celebration is a day to honor veterans like her father, who served in the Korean War.
She says she was concerned that the cemetery fell into shambles; until police juror Dr. Ollibeth Reddix heard of the forgotten cemetery, and brought in several community groups to clean the place up for Memorial Day.
Dr. Reddix is crediting American Legions Posts 99 and 521, Steve Ray, the OPPJ Public Works Department, Swanson Correctional Center for Youth, and other volunteers for the clean-up effort.
Dr. Reddix says her next big project is to create a book that remembers the veterans buried at the local cemetery. She hopes to share their pictures and their stories with the community.