Volunteer crews honor veterans at rest in Madison cemeteries
MADISON – Following both tradition and a contemporary respect, members of American Legion, Post 229 and Auxiliary Unit 229, along with scores of Madison residents, conducted successful events on the weekend leading up to Veterans Day 2020.
A federal holiday, Veterans Day is observed each year on Nov. 11. The commemoration honors men and women who have served in the U.S. Armed Forces.
Larry Vannoy, Commander of American Legion, Post 229 welcomed the volunteers and instructed the large group of people of all ages about the correct procedure for placing flags and the necessary steps for cleaning headstones at graves of veterans.
“We started the day with the placement of flags at our veterans’ graves in all four of Madison’s cemeteries. All three of our local JROTC units from Bob Jones, James Clemens and Sparkman high schools had cadets participating,” Jean Downs said. Downs serves as Madison Auxiliary Unit President.
“There was also an excellent turnout from the Girl Scouts of Madison, James Clemens Cheer Squad and other members from the community,” Downs said.
Following the flag placement, volunteers turned out in overwhelming support of the second annual cleaning of Madison veterans’ gravestones. Other groups joining the crews included Bob Jones Football Team, who worked to straighten up and reset several veterans’ gravestones that have been displaced over time.
“The purpose of the cleaning is not only to make the stones presentable, but also to preserve them and help prevent future decay,” Downs said. “We use a special solution recommended by the Alabama Historical Commission that not only removes the existing biofouling but leaves behind a protective layer on the stones to prevent future damage.” (Biofouling or biological fouling is an accumulation of microorganisms, plant matter and algae on surfaces of structures.)
Individuals who volunteered for placing flags at Faith Memorial Park, 8100 Madison Blvd. included Girl Scouts in Troop 32 and Mary Downs and Julia Wilhide in Girl Scout Troop 926.
Donations to the American Legion are tax-deductible under the 501(c)19 non-profit category for veteran organizations. For more information about Madison American Legion, call 256-468-8400, email Commander@AmericanLegionPost229.org or visit AmericanLegionPost229.org. For more information about the American Legion Auxiliary, call Downs at 256-929-8450 or email ALAux229@yahoo.com.