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Vicksburg Military Park seeks community’s help to keep overgrown grass trimmed in national cemetery

From The Vicksburg Post

VICKSBURG — The Vicksburg National Military Park will hold a volunteer workday at the national cemetery Saturday from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

“I’m looking forward to this workday,” said park Superintendent Bill Justice. “We’ve struggled to keep the grass in the park mowed and cared for this year. With the community’s help in this event, I think we can make a difference in the National Cemetery.”

In the event of rain, the volunteer day will be rescheduled for July 28.

“As everyone knows, mowing grass is a never ending task. We hope this is the beginning of a relationship with the community that will help us all care for our park.”

The workday is the result of a meeting between Rick Martin, a retired chief of operations for the park, and Justice.

The park’s cemetery, Martin said, is the only national cemetery in the state administered by the National Park Service.

“The National Park Service is responsible for maintaining it, and they haven’t been able to maintain it, because of staffing,” Martin, a retired colonel in the Mississippi National Guard, said. “The grass, when I was out there a couple of days ago, was over my hip, and those veterans out there don’t deserve that; that’s not the way it’s supposed to look. It really is tragic.

“I just can’t see the cemetery looking like that. I don’t know if we’ll be able to do it in one day or not, but I thought we’d try and take a stab at it.”

Volunteers are asked to bring their own grass trimmers and fuel. They should wear long pants and work boots or footwear that will be good on uneven surfaces and will protect their feet. No sandals or other open toe shoes and no shorts. They should wear a hat to protect them from the sun and wear sunscreen and have insect repellant.

Martin said the group will meet in the USS Cairo parking lot for a safety briefing and to sign forms for the park. They will provide safety glasses and hearing protection for those without it and water to drink. While the workday is from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., people wishing to volunteer are encouraged to come when they can but no later than 1 p.m.

For more information call the park at 601-636-0583 or 601-630-6021.