U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Helps Bonaventure - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

06/18/03

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Helps Bonaventure

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers plans and designs some of the largest projects in the world. Now they're tackling a much smaller one in Savannah's Bonaventure Cemetery.

The veterans' section is tucked in the back of Bonaventure Cemetery. It's the final resting place for dozens of Georgia's war heroes, including many from World War I and World War II. Ken Seymour visits every week to tend their graves. He's the chairman of the Chatham County Veteran's Council and a veteran of the Korean War. He remembers the men who were killed there and how many of them were left behind. "Our first priority was to get out all the wounded," he says, "so we left quite a few of the bodies up there. By being out here and doing this work, it makes me feel closer to the men we left behind there."

Now, he's doing something more for them. When Seymour approached the Army Corps of Engineers about developing a plan to realign the headstones, they were happy to volunteer.

"It's part of our community relations initiative," explains Wayne Seyle, Chief of Survey Section with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. "We have an opportunity to go out and provide a service."

One by one, engineers pinpoint the exact location and height of every marker. "They'll take that information and reset the headstones that are out of alignment so they're all uniform and spaced evenly apart," Seyle adds, "front to back and side to side so it looks uniform."

Jerry Flemming, the director of Savannah's Department of Cemeteries says it will improve the cemetery even more. "It always looked good," he says, "but it looks better now and what we're trying to do is take it one step further to where it's going to look even better still."

Veterans say it will give the soldiers the respect they deserve. "Some of them (markers) are getting uneven," says Jimmy Ray, Commander of American Legion Post 36. "You don't want a military cemetery with uneven stones."

"These are veterans," says Seymour, "deceased veterans, and we should show them the respect they deserve."

The Army Corps of Engineers hopes to have a realignment plan finished by the end of the week. Seymour says the next step will be to find volunteers to help re-set the grave markers. If you would like to volunteer, call 897-6659.

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