Patriots Unite to Save Crumbling African-American Cemetery
BROOKSVILLE – Whether you served in the military or not there are some things that remain sacred to most Americans; the symbol of our great nation, the American Flag, and the men and women who fought to protect our sovereignty. To a veteran, the color of one’s skin has no relevance and that credence was exemplified today at the African-American Spring Hill Cemetery, where dozens gathered to help restore the dilapidated place of final rest.
The nearly 4-acre cemetery is located at 8580 Fort Dade Ave and is nestled between Spanish moss laden, century old oak trees, ostensibly standing guard over hundreds of war veterans and their families. We spoke to Alyce Walker, the cemetery’s trustee since 1993, who pointed at an old oak tree and said “That’s where they lynched Rev. Abe Tillman.” Walker, now 88, says “Over 330 people are rest here and we even had a funeral here yesterday.”
Korean War Veteran, Pastor Marvin “Mac” T. McCarthy led dozens of those who volunteered today in prayer and said “…the reason we are all here is because God is here…” Speaking on his own military service McCarthy said “I don’t know why I made, but as long as I have a voice, I’m going to give God all the glory.”
Volunteer Cathy Pokol belongs to an organization called Chicks in the Wind and says they helped with donations and brought some of the headstones that were in ruins, sinking, and dirty, back to a more presentable condition. Home Depot provided lumber, concrete, and other hardware needed to complete some of the restoration at no charge, according to Pokol.
Tony Williams, President of Veterans Counseling Veterans says he and his wife drove from MacDill to help with the project, after seeing the event on Facebook. Williams says “…that’s why we’re here… It’s not about color or anything else; it’s about taking care of veterans.”
Volunteers levelled a dirt road circling the grounds, removed weeds, downed trees, and even raised a new flag pole at the entrance to the cemetery.
Even with fears of future mining looming over the cemetery, volunteers made no mention of the issue or the political dissonance surrounding controversy.
There was only one thing on people’s minds today and that was restoring honor to those whose final resting place was at risk of being forgotten.
Effort to complete the restoration will start again next weekend.
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