More than 120,000 people have been laid to rest at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery in Point Loma, California, and part of paying their respects includes a process that is managed with care, devotion and respect.
Marines and Navy Corpsman with the MCRD San Diego Single Marine Program, along with volunteers from the Rotary Club of San Diego, worked together to restore the headstones and cemetery for the annual Rotarians at Work Day on April 30, 2022.
The event was led by retired Captain Mike Caruso, a member of the Rotary Club of San Diego, who hoped to make a meaningful difference before Memorial Day. Rotarians, a volunteer organization whose slogan is “Service Above Self”, come out every year on the last weekend in April to clean the gravestones of fallen service members. This event, now in its 11th year, is one of 12 service projects the Rotary Club of San Diego conducts each year.
“We choose hands-on projects where we can make a small but meaningful improvement to something in the San Diego community,” Caruso said.
They also do an additional service project that varies from year to year. In 2021 they planted six Queen palms on the pitch, and this year they will repaint the stand; a small stage used during events that take place at the cemetery. Rotarians chose this landmark knowing that Memorial Day is fast approaching and the cemetery will receive considerable attention.
“The largest and busiest Memorial Day celebrations are always here at Fort Rosecrans,” Caruso said.
As the other volunteers began to arrive, Caruso gathered them together to give a brief speech about what they were going to do. For one of the volunteers, Corporal Joseph Dixon of the Single Marine program, there was a special sense of attachment to the project.
“It’s something we can actually give back to them,” Dixon said. “They had to walk before we could run, so it’s a way of giving thanks and showing our gratitude.”
The mission of the SMP is to engage members of the Navy and Navy services on base and in the surrounding community through special events and volunteer work.
Another volunteer, retired Navy Colonel Jim Gruny, shared his feelings about providing acts of service.
“I spent 30 years serving in the Marine Corps and you keep doing that,” Gruny said. “You serve in every way possible.”
For Gruny, the importance of ensuring the cemetery remains well maintained is not only to honor those buried in the grounds, but also to show respect for loved ones who come to pay their respects to members of their family.
“To make things a little bit better for the families who are going to come and see where their loved ones are buried…it’s just what’s needed,” Gruny said.
All over the field, volunteers worked enthusiastically – occasionally stopping to chat or take a sip of water. The smiles on their faces reflected the general feeling of the morning – joy.
As the event wrapped up and volunteers began to gather, enjoying refreshments, the sounds of laughter and conversation filled the air. Even though so many souls had been buried where they lay, the spirit of giving back and the sense of community was very much alive.
|Date posted:||05.04.2022 18:03|
|Location:||POINT LOMA, CA, USA|
This work, Members of the US Marine Corps and Navy work with the Rotary Club of San Diego to restore the cemeteryby LCpl Elliott Flood-Johnsonidentified by DVDmust follow the restrictions listed at https://www.dvidshub.net/about/copyright.