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Local group works to clear veterans graves at Oaklawn Cemetery

WPMI

Here at NBC 15 News we salute our veterans each and every weeknight, but the same respect isn’t given at Oaklawn Cemetery where over five hundred veterans have been laid to rest and people want answers as to why the the cemetery looks the way it does.

The soldiers said this is years and years of problems and they are tired of going out their seeing how the graves are continuing to be overlooked. The crazy part about this is no one is taking responsibility of the property.

“I mean we can’t take care of the whole cemetery,” said Eddie Irby, President of 92nd Div. Buffalo Soldiers WWII.

“It’s been like this for the past 60 years where were you people at then,” said Bill Atkeison - Vietnam Veteran

Saturday NBC15 news went walking through Oaklawn Cemetery with veterans and buffalo soldiers to see just what everyone was so upset about. We asked what happened out here but they couldn’t sum up the decade’s worth of problems.

“Everything you know this place was in shambles when we first came in, we were told several different people own it but nobody wants to own up to it,” said Irby.

Bill Atkeison said the cemetery is filled with dirt pilled over headstones, over-grown grass, and weeds stretching across twenty-two acres and he says they haven’t even reached the halfway mark to get this place cleaned up.

“Nobody really wants to claim it until we get it cleaned up," said Atkeison.

The flags you see out here at Oaklawn cemetery represent the veterans... some flags showing, others buried under trees uprooting the headstones and graves in disrepair. NBC15 asked the veterans who owns this property and no one knew the answer but just feet away at the catholic cemetery, they say everything is always keep up.

“They are perpetual care, this is a non-perpetual care that mean if you bury somebody out here you take care of it,” said Atkeison.

“I looked over there and to look over there and to look back over here it hurts,” said Terance Perine, who has family members at the cemetery.

“It’s heart breaking you know what’s the difference that’s someone’s loved one these are our loved ones why can’t it all be maintained,” said Perine.

Allison Perine and her family come out here every chance they can to cut the grass and keep the weeds from growing up too high around their family’s graves she says something needs to be done and they appreciate the veterans for being the voice for all the families at Oaklawn cemetery.

Allison Perine continued, “we need to bring attention to this because if not it’s only going to get worse”

“When you talk about heritage again when you talk about legacy you want to protect that so I appreciate them,” said Terance Perine.

The buffalo soliders told NBC 15 News that they have drafted up a listed of the 543 veterans and complaints of the terrible conditions the Oaklawn Cemetery is facing. This letter will be sent off Monday morning. Be sure to stay tuned as me continue to seek answers.

To help volunteer by cleaning the Oaklawn Cemetery contact:

Eddie Irby, President of 92nd Div. Buffalo Soldiers WWII 251-591-3057

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