Project Honors All War Vets: Tioga Gravesites Receive Wreaths
Project Homecoming of Tioga County finished their most recent project to support the troops and veterans during the weekend of December fifth, laying Christmas wreaths next to the gravesites of veterans of all American wars.
Project Homecoming is an Owego-based veterans advocacy group that helps to support the troops and promote awareness of local veterans and individuals who fought in American wars and have since passed on.
The group began the process with a call for volunteers to help to survey the various cemeteries in Tioga County. The survey began in early September and continued until late October as volunteers traveled to more than 65 cemeteries in Tioga County, including some in Spencer and Candor.
After finishing the survey, the group chose a veteran of each American war from the Revolutionary War all the way up to Operation Iraqi Freedom to place a wreath beside their grave.
The group found markers and headstones from as far back as the early 1800s. Each one of these headstones or markers was adorned with a green wreath with red and green highlights.
The survey will serve other functions as well. Many of these headstones, especially older monuments provided by the Grand Army of the Republic for Civil War veterans, are deteriorating or damaged. This survey will help to point out which stones may need extensive renovations or even just new flag holders.
The survey also stands to record and preserve the veterans' historic military data from the stones. According to information put out during the survey the stones can act as a "primary document of record." According to the information, many of these cemeteries are either abandoned or have incomplete records of this primary military data. These deteriorating stones could be the last testimony to a veteran's service contributions to our country.
The survey was funded by the last $500 of a fundraising project undertaken by the group earlier in the year. The group sold personal and donated items on eBay to raise $3500 last year.
$500 was put towards purchasing data collection software and offsetting costs for mailing and printing expenses for survey itself. When the survey is finished the group plans to send the information on to the Tioga County Historical Society and the Tioga County Veterans Service Agency.
$500 more was put towards placing flag holders or putting into place grave markers for unmarked veteran graves.
The bulk of the money, $2500, went to renovations for deteriorating, damaged or vandalized gravesites in Tioga County. The money went out to repair 124 gravesites that were in the worst condition. Preference was generally given to the oldest sites as the group found more than those 124 that could use some sort of renovation. Time, money and manpower were cited as the reason to limit the scope of the project to 124 this year. Some of the sites that were scheduled for repair date all the way back, 233 years, to the American Revolution, but the majority of the stones in need of fixes were government-issue stones from the Civil War.12/16/2009 12:20:00 PM
By Jesse Disbrow