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Volunteers set footstones for WNC veterans

VETERANS STONES SET.transfer_frame_5610.jpg
Footstones left standing along a guardrail at Green Hills Cemetery in Leicester were finally placed Tuesday, thanks to volunteers from L&S Landscape. (Photo credit: WLOS staff)

Footstones left standing along a guardrail at a local cemetery were finally placed Tuesday, thanks to volunteers.

Some of the stones at Green Hills Cemetery in Leicester dated to 2002.

Cemetery officials said they were waiting for payment to set the markers.

A local landscaper heard about the situation, and stepped up as a patriotic tribute.

"Thinking about all the veterans, all the people who've allowed us to be able to do what we're doing today," L&S Landscape owner Sam Byrnside said.

Byrnside and a landscape crew made their way around Green Hills Cemetery. Locating the small flags that identified the burial plots, they set the footstones of about 30 local veterans whose families, for whatever reason, had not paid the fee.

"I seen the story out there, and I felt something on my shoulder, that I had to do something about it," Byrnside said.

Crew members dug the shallow trenches one by one and then placed the markers with care.

The labor of these young men is one of love of country: their way of paying tribute to those who've come before. They understand sacrifice and what these slabs of stone really represent.

"That's a soul right there," Dave Johnson said. "They went to war for our freedom, my freedom. He could've been on the same boat my grandfather was."

As Johnson worked he thought about his father's father, who fought in World War II.

"He had some bad things happen. That little boat that he brought people to the shore with couple different times got sunk," Johnson said. "I have his dog tags at home, hanging up with a picture of him and my grandmother."

Crew members said it was a volunteer project that was more than worthwhile.

The finishing touch involved breaking the silence of a cemetery. But the leaf blower created a clear view of history and a fitting tribute to military service.

"That looks perfect. Perfect," Johnson said, admiring the newly set footstones.

Crew members said they put other jobs on hold for the day to do the grave marker project in Leicester.

L&S also offers discounts to veterans for landscaping work.