The Hunterdon County Board of Commissioners hosted a skilled tombstone cleaning event on Saturday, October 23rd with Trae Zipperer, Navy veteran and founder of the nonprofit group By Memorial Day.
Attendees cleaned veteran’s headstones at Prospect Hill Cemetery in Flemington, Director Susan J. Soloway reported.
According to Soloway, Veterans Liaison Officer for the Board, “We had over 20 participants on Saturday, some were only 6 years old, and all wanted to respectfully clean a veteran’s tombstone. Trae briefed us on the federal protocol for the cleaning of veterans’ gravestones and how this process is a way for all of us to honor those who served the nation at its final resting place. ”
By Memorial Day, the goal is to clean and care for every veteran’s headstone across the country. Zipperer, the founder of the nonprofit, pointed out when discussing the protocol for the proper cleaning of tombstones that “If a little less than 2% of the American population would agree to clean a veteran’s tombstone, every veteran’s tombstone would receive the proper care he deserves. Cleaning tombstones is a straightforward process and anyone wishing to do this should check with their local cemetery and ask for permission before cleaning veteran tombstones. “
Soloway said, “We are honored that Trae traveled all the way up from Florida to show us how to properly clean the headstones. As the first county to contact By Memorial Day and host a community cleaning event, we hope to be a catalyst for other counties to make tombstone cleaning a recurring calendar event to say thank you to our veterans. ”
Commissioner Zachary T. Rich, veteran co-liaison for the board, said, “It was rewarding to watch the headstone cleaning process, in which the stone regains its original color after many years of being covered in algae. Listening to Trae tell a story about the veteran buried under the tombstone he cleaned and the realization that there is a person with a life story associated with that tombstone changes perspective. From that moment on, it becomes an obligation as an American to take better care of these tombstones. “
To learn more about Until Remembrance Day, click here. For a hard copy of the headstone cleaning protocol, information on future events, or materials needed to clean a veteran’s headstone, please email [email protected]