Volunteers gathered at East View Cemetery in East Lake on Saturday, Veterans Day, to clean and place flags on the graves of veterans buried there.
The group was organized by Chris Purdy with Vets for American Ideals, which is an initiative of Human Rights First. The volunteers were immigrants, refugees, veterans, members of the Peace Corps, students, teachers, families, and children.
The air was brisk, but warm sunlight spilled on the group as they set off across a carpet of autumn leaves, armed with cleaning supplies, maps, and fistfuls of American flags. Some worked in groups, smiling and chatting, while others worked solo. One group read aloud the names on each grave as they worked. When asked why, they said that they wanted to remember that these were real people who lived real lives. Some came to Saturday’s event out of a sense of responsibility, or to honor veteran family members. Some said they came out of respect for our history and those who have made sacrifices for our freedom.
Veteran and volunteer Bill Staton said he was there “because it felt appropriate and necessary.”