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Wilkes-Barre starts cemetery restoration committee

Volunteers hope to care for the gravesites in the city's historic cemetery along North River Street.

WILKES-BARRE, Pa. — Joan Cavanaugh spent much of the afternoon placing or replacing American flags at the gravesites of veterans inside the Wilkes-Barre City Cemetery off North River Street. It's not an easy trek through the tall grass, but she says it's important.

"There's a lot of history here, and we have Civil War veterans that were depicted in a movie 'Glory,' and they are buried here, and there's so much history with the Civil War with the Revolutionary War," said Cavanaugh.

It's so important that the city has put together a committee of volunteers dedicated to maintaining and restoring the cemetery year-round.

"It's going to be a committee to restore Wilkes-Barre City Cemetery," said Mayor Brown. "If you look around, you'll see a lot of the headstones are tipped over and just in terrible shape. But we want to concentrate not just on the stones that are tipped over but the veterans."

"It just stands for so much. That's part of America. Men and women veterans who gave their lives in the prominent citizens," added member Gregory Griffin.

The first thing on the to-do list was to clean up the trash; that was done over the weekend. Next is to place the flags.

"Next four or five days, we're going to have crews in here both picking up branches, cutting all the grass, making sure we're ready for Memorial Day like we always are," said city supervisor David Lewis.

The effort then will go past sprucing up for the holiday and move to restoring many of the illegible or broken headstones.

"Then next thing is that we form a fundraising effort and then start working in here besides the cleanups that we're doing, raise funds. Let's get these veterans' graves back where they should be," said Brown.

More information about the city's committees can be found on its website here.

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