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Shaw, Sumter to honor heritage through cemetery clean-up

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Destinee Sweeney
  • 20th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
The 20th Civil Engineer Squadron fire department and the Sumter Cemetery staff are scheduled to host a “Decorating the Decorated” clean-up at the Sumter Cemetery, May 27 beginning at 9 a.m.

Volunteers will clean and straighten veteran’s headstones across approximately 80 acres during the Memorial Day weekend event, which will prepare the grounds for a flag-placing event which will be held on May 29.

“These fallen veterans are right in the backyard of Shaw Air Force Base,” said Staff Sgt. Christian Arvelo, 20th CES fire protection crew chief, “so why not take care of our own and our own community and help out in any way we can? This is a way for the Airmen and the military of today to help out those who have served and helped shape who we are. It’s one of the small things we can do for them.”

Sumter Cemetery is the final resting place of more than 3,300 service members from across all branches of the military including the late Maj. Gen. Thomas R. Olsen, former 9th Air Force vice commander and U.S. Air Forces Central deputy commander.

“We have veterans from every war,” said Mark Ferro, Sumter Cemetery manager, “There’s not many places in Sumter (such as the cemetery) where you can walk back in time.”

The Shaw community has been more involved each year with volunteering at the cemetery and it is important for the community to continue honoring the veteran’s laid to rest there, said Ferro.

“Memorial Day is something I didn’t truly appreciate until I came into the military and then learned the history of all who came before me who served the country,” said Arvelo.

Memorial Day, observed on the last Monday of May, is a federal holiday that provides an opportunity for the community to remember service members who gave their lives in defense of the nation.

To volunteer for the event, contact Arvelo at 321-263-8639.