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Group seeks support for veterans cemetery

Hometown News: The Beaches - 10/6/2017

TITUSVILLE ? To the Friends of the Cemetery, a group of four that formed about four months ago, a veterans cemetery located at 1143 Day St. is more than just a plot of land that houses graves.

It's a place to honor those who fought and served to protect the nation; one that can also bring recognition to local and community history.

The group's goal is to make repairs and upgrades to the cemetery site, which was established in the late 1970s for veterans who could not afford burial services.

Friends of the Cemetery describes the site as a "hidden treasure," but notes that it has become run down in a letter sent out during the summer to ask community members for support.

"I believe in my heart that these men and women deserved this," said friends group founder Sam DiBlasio of the more than 120 veterans interred at the site.

"Whether they were just a desk clerk or a fighting sailor or soldier," he said, they merit having a place that honors them.

Among other objectives, the volunteers aim to spruce up the landscaping, power wash and restore structures on the site, and create a paved walkway that will make the area more wheelchair accessible.

Brevard County's facilities maintenance department currently provides basic groundskeeping, including lawn mowing and weed whacking. Though the efforts are necessary and the group is grateful for them, Mr. DiBlasio said, additional upgrades are needed and go beyond the county's available funding.

Overall, the cemetery's relationship with the county has been positive, and county officials have been supportive of the endeavors, Mr. DiBlasio noted.

Friends of the Cemetery had raised about $2,000 as of late August, according to Mr. DiBlasio, but the estimated budget for repairs and upgrades is between $12,000 and $15,000.

"If enough concerned businesses and professionals assist us," reads the letter sent to community members, "we will be able to reach our estimated budget" for the intended improvements.

"By working with government organizations and raising funds from local businesses and concerned citizens," the letter continues, "we feel we can upgrade the cemetery to a place all the community would be proud of and provide a respectable and honorable final resting place for our local veterans."

The group had planned to host a tour of the cemetery -one of the first events in a series of efforts to raise funds and awareness about the site -but the Sept. 9 event was canceled because of fallen trees from Hurricane Irma and may be rescheduled.

Future efforts will include volunteer service days, meetings with local government officials and community groups, Veterans Day and Memorial Day celebrations, and Wreaths Across America ceremonies every December.

"We just want to good for the community," said Mr. DiBlasio of the group's efforts.

Anyone who is knowledgeable about the site's past can contact Mr. DiBlasio, as he is conducting broader research on the veterans' individual histories and the cemetery's history. Mr. DiBlasio can be reached by calling (321) 222-8738, or via email at diblasiosam@gmail.com.

Friends of the Cemetery welcomes monetary and in-kind donations, volunteer assistance and help from organizations interested in holding a fund-raiser on behalf of the group.

To give a monetary donation, visit "Friends of the Cemetery" on GoFund-Me.

Another way to donate is by sending a check. The group is partnering with Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 4228, a 501(c)(3) organization that can accept and oversee donations.

Make checks payable to VFW Post 4228, with Friends of the Cemetery recorded in the notes section on the check. Checks should be mailed to Friends of the Cemetery, 777 Peachtree St., Titusville, FL 32780.

Donors will be mailed a thank-you letter that can be used for tax purposes.

The group is also in need of the following items: 20 bags of weed and feed; 12 gallons of Roundup; 10 bags of Amdro ant killer; 30 four-foot poles for holding ropes; 400 feet of cheap rope for parking direction signs; 14 bags of quick-set cement; and water, hot dogs and other supplies that can help feed scouts during an upcoming work day. Gift cards for the listed needs are also welcome.

 
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