The American Legion Riders, a working group of American Legion Post 55 of Martin, have launched a campaign to ensure that all veterans’ burial sites in Weakley County are visible and the veterans receive the honor they deserve.
While the Veterans Administration provides a foot marker for the graves of veterans, the installation of the bronze plaque set in marble can be costly and must be covered by the family.
The wait for a funeral home to receive the foot marker can take up to three months in some circumstances. That wait might elude to the reason funeral homes have accumulated stacks of the bronze markers. The local organization plans to contact funeral homes across Weakley County and offer to install the markers at no cost.
The campaign was launched after a brief conversation with the son of a Martin resident who is buried in East Side Cemetery in Martin. Legion Chaplain Elton Wilkerson met Garry Warren as the Legion Riders were removing flags that had been installed on veteran’s graves for Veterans Day. Wilkerson soon learned that the family of veteran George W. Warren had been quoted a cost of more than $275 for the installation. Wilkerson told the Alabama resident that the Legion would provide the service for free.
“He was reluctant at first,” said Wilkerson. “But I showed him the members present and told him he was welcome to verify with the cemetery that we were legitimate. He soon agreed.”
Legion Riders Director Jackie Laird met with Warren to receive the marker and on Sunday eight Legion members met at East Side Cemetery in Martin to set the stone in place.
“This is to give our veterans their due respect,” Laird said.
Legion Riders members Randy Edwards agreed and noted that members place the markers to legal specifications and the extra soil is hauled off during the clean-up process.
The organization is absorbing the costs of placing the markers, which is approximately $40 per marker. Throughout the coming months, the group plans to host various fundraisers to ensure they can place the known markers.
Laird said that the process of identifying the veterans and making contact with families has just begun and that any family member interested should contact him at (731) 364-5766 for more information. Anyone wanting to help with the project can contact Laird or other Legion Riders members.
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