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Medal of Honor cleanup in Bloomsburg

The graves of Civil War Veterans and Medal of Honor recipients in Columbia County had been long forgotten until one man decided to change that.

BLOOMSBURG, Pa. — Up on the hill in Bloomsburg sits the old Rosemont Cemetery. It's the oldest in the community. Bloomsburg resident Michael Williams is a disabled veteran who became intrigued by the cemetery and the history of the heroes buried in it.

"This town has a huge number of civil war soldiers that had been buried here and we're also proudly home to two congressional Medal of Honor recipients," said Michael Williams, Bloomsburg.

Bloomsburg natives Sergeant George W. Mears and Corporal Chester S. Furman are two of just a few thousand Americans in history to receive a Congressional Medal of Honor and the only two in Columbia County. 

During the Civil War, Mears and Furman stormed a log cabin full of Confederate snipers on the second day of the Battle of Gettysburg.

"Sergeant Mears volunteered to lead a squad to raid this cabin. They were under heavy fire, they used the butts of their rifles to break down the door, they stormed in very sternly and took all the rebels into custody, including a few prisoners of war from the Union," said Williams.

But the grounds where they and many others were laid to rest, are now in poor condition.

Williams says when he first came to Rosemont Cemetary he saw the tall grass and broken headstones, some of them, buried.

"Sadly, the two congressional medal of honor recipients, both of their government were buried by about an inch and half to two inches of mud and grass. You couldn't even tell that they were there," Williams said.

That's why Williams decided to take matters into his own hands, using a backpack sprayer and a toothbrush to clean Mears and Furman's headstones, wiping away the debris from the gold incrested Medal of Honor insignia on their federal stones and adding American flags and flowers. 

Williams and another volunteer, Jamey Harding, have been placing flags at veterans' graves and mowing the cemetery, but other plots need attention too. 

A grave marker from the early 1800s has been twisted and broken by the branches of a tree.

"Whether you're a veteran or not, I think when you're in your final resting place and it's a place that brought you peace when you were alive, that you were proud to be interred in, that you full in well have the right to be taken care of when you're gone," said Williams.

Rosemont Cemetery's president tells Newswatch 16 that the grounds do need work and he plans to hire experts to move and repair damaged graves. Still, Williams plans to keep going. 

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