BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) – After years of people walking on their anonymous final resting places, hundreds of fallen veterans will finally get the recognition they deserve at Greenlawn cemetery.
Thousands of veterans have been laid to rest at Greenlawn cemeteries in Bakersfield but if it wasn’t for the American flag decorating their grave this holiday you might not know you were walking over a veteran’s grave. That’s because hundreds of veteran’s graves have gone unmarked.
“On Memorial Day it is a tradition that you honor and remember veterans,” said Wayne Wright, Post 97 Commander. “If you go to a cemetery and you see an unmarked grave, that to me means they are being forgotten. Nobody wants to be forgotten.”
Every year, in the weeks before Memorial Day, Greenlawn Cemetery pulls up data on all the veterans laid to rest on their grounds. They then go grave by grave placing American flags on them. They said they visited over 9,000 graves this year, 556 were unmarked.
“They fought until they died,” said Wright. “We have to honor that.”
On Memorial Day, in partnership with the Veteran’s Department and Senator Shannon grove, the cemetery announced they planned to change that.
“On a day where we don’t have the usual memorial day services which might make many veterans feel forgotten, we will launch a campaign that the veterans that don’t have markers on their graves will never be forgotten,” said Jim Lamar, Greenlawn funeral homes and cemeteries president.
The cemetery will be placing new grave markers to honor the forgotten soldiers.
“Anybody who puts their hand in the hair and swears to protect the U.S. should never be forgotten,” said Senator Grove. “U.S. military veterans, present or diseased, we need to continue to honor them.”
The cemetery is hoping their project is complete by next year. They urge other cemeteries to join in their effort.
The cost of a new grave marker is around $200. The cemetery is accepting donations. If you’d like to donate call (661) 324-9701 and ask about the “veterans marker program.”