At 40 national cemeteries across the country, more than 2,000 volunteers from Carry The Load partnered with the National Cemetery Administration for a national day of service in honor of 9/11.
This year’s event was the first 9/11 national day of service partnership between CTL and NCA. The volunteer work included cleaning headstones and markers, along with grounds beautification.
Here’s a snapshot of some of the events.
Quantico National Cemetery
Stacy Sincock benefited from the volunteers’ work. She was laying flowers at her mother’s headstone. Her mother, Cheryle, was one of the victims of the Pentagon attack on 9/11.
Stacy worked at a law firm in Crystal City when her mom called to tell her to flip on the TV. As they watched the second plane hit the south tower of the World Trade Center, they talked about donating blood. Cheryle hung up and moments later outside, Stacy felt the roads shake.
Stacy’s stepfather also worked in the Pentagon, but was in Rosslyn for a meeting. When he came home that night, it was the first time Stacy ever watched him cry. Her mother was gone.
“Today, it’s about hope, renewal and taking something bad and turning it into something good,” Stacy said.
Stacy said her daughter wants to be a counselor at VA.
Alexandria National Cemetery
Acting Deputy Secretary James Byrne was at the Alexandria National Cemetery today honoring 9/11 victims and their families.
Joining the more than 40 Carry the Load volunteers was Assistant Secretary for VA’s Office of Congressional and Legislative Affairs, Brooks D. Tucker. He was on hand to clean headstones in honor of 9/11 victims.
Culpeper National Cemetery
Cemetery Director Matthew Priest spoke to about 30 Carry The Load volunteers before they set off cleaning headstones.
“For all the evil that we witnessed that day, and like many of the heroes that lay beneath these sacred grounds, our heroes of 9/11 met the challenge with a greater and opposite reaction,” Priest said. “They represented all that is good with America and mankind.”
Several members from DAV Chapter 7 in Fredericksburg, Virginia, came out to carry the load
“Obviously, this is a special day to us,” said retired Army Veteran Lisa Gregory, the DAV Department of Virginia commander. “This is why we’re here, to remember those who lost their lives on Sept. 11, so it’s a little emotional.”
Priest, an Army Veteran, said he carried the load for Spec. Daniel Elliott, killed in Basra, Iraq, from an improvised explosive device attack July 15, 2011.
Dallas-Fort Worth National Cemetery
More than 300 Carry The Load volunteers showed up at the cemetery, the largest of any of the locations. Volunteers cleaned all the cemeteries’ 34,000 headstones, pulled weeds out of all the floral beds and developed mulch rings around the trees.
Headstones are to be cleaned twice a year. With the volunteer efforts, Cemetery Director Larry Williams said the group did six months of manpower in a single day.
“I don’t know what we would have done without them,” Williams said. “It’s very moving. We’re very appreciative.”
For more information on Carry the Load, visit http://www.carrytheload.org.
Tanner Iskra and Tass Mimikos contributed to this story.