Memorial Day weekend is a special time to honor fallen heroes, but for one area in Beaufort, it’s a year-round effort.
There are 130 national cemeteries in the United States, three of those in South Carolina. Since 1863, the Beaufort National Cemetery has served as a burial ground for veterans and their families. There are about 18,000 tombstones sitting on 49 acres of land at the Beaufort National Cemetery, and over 17,000 of those are part of a $2.5 million beautification project. Bernie Bowse is the director of the cemetery.
“The National Cemetery Administrationsets aside money from Congress every year for what they call “millineum projects” and that project is dedicated to raising, realigning headstones within the cemetery, cleaning them, and in some cases also providing for a total turf renovation for all or part of the cemetery,” says Bowse.
Bowse says it’s their job to maintain these graves and with the soggy Beaufort soil, after time, the headstones begin to shift.
“When you look down a row of headstones, there’s suppose to be no more than one-eighth of an inch of variance with the horizontal alignment, but what happens over the years, is that because of the headstones sinking, and because of the weight of the stones, they tilt, they tip, and in some cases they sink and have to be raised, they have to be realigned with each other,” says Bowse.
Bowse explains the why the project is needed:
“Just as the burial was done in an honorable, and dignified manner, the perpetual care will continue to be accomplished with the honor and dignity as the veterans deserve,” says Bowse.
The project will take around 8 to 10 months to complete.