RICHMOND, Va. -- Two Richmond nonprofits joined together Monday to pay tribute to those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for our country.
Virginia Outdoors Foundation and Enrichmond Foundation celebrated Memorial Day by providing free meals for veterans, active duty service members and their families -- courtesy of Big Herm's Kitchen.
Viola Baskerville, a trustee with the Virginia Outdoors Foundation, said her group is currently working to revitalize the historic African-American cemetery -- and veterans are part of that effort, often helping to uncover the graves of other men and women who have served.
"We want to say thank you because a lot of those veterans help us during the volunteer hours, and so this is our way of giving back to them," explained Baskerville.
Baskerville said she recently discovered a Buffalo Soldier is buried at the site.
"It’s really eye opening," she noted. "Some of these people are hidden heroes. It helps to reconnect the greater community of veterans that want to pay homage and respect to those who’ve served, and it’s also a way we can tell our story on a different level that we have here at Historic Evergreen."
More than 100 veterans are buried across the 76-acre lot, and, in honor of Memorial Day, volunteers placed American flags in front of their graves.
“There’s Civil War veterans here," said Alexander Smith, a volunteer with Enrichmond who served in the U.S. Army from 1966 to 1968. "There are veterans from World War I, World War II, the Korean War and perhaps even Vietnam, so it's a special time to honor these people, as well as families who want to come out and honor their deceased loved ones."
Smith said it's been exciting to watch the progress at Evergreen over the past three years.
A large section of the cemetery was once covered in trees and tall grass, but now the area is clear.
Boy Scout troops have also built build benches throughout the cemetery to give people a place to sit and pay respect to their loved ones.
The revitalization project is expected to take place over several years. Organizers encourage community members to come out and learn about the work being done to preserve history at Evergreen.