Full Service Westside
At 176 years old, Greenwood Cemetery houses the graves of many of Muscatine’s most distinguished historical residents. Of especial note, the veterans’ section of Greenwood Cemetery provides a final resting place for those who served to keep Muscatine, and the United States, safe. Over the past three years, the Muscatine American Legion and Muscatine County Girl Scouts have teamed up to clean up and decorate the graves in this area of the cemetery. On June 9th and 10th, their project to honor these veterans took a major step forward as they individually cleaned each headstone.
According to Kathy Wikerson, vice president of the Women’s Auxiliary of the Muscatine American Legion, the group first noticed that many of the stones in the veteran’s plot had dirt and discoloration on them. Wanting to preserve them, they decided to research how to clean them. Two years ago, American Legion member Linda Pahl began researching how to safely wash the headstones. After experimenting with several methods that proved too labor intensive, she contacted Rock Island National Cemetery to learn how they keep their monuments clean. From this conversation, she found out what product and cleaning method to use. Now, she just needed volunteers to help get the project done.
The volunteers came in the form of Muscatine County’s Girl Scouts. At about the time Wikerson began investigating how to clean the headstones, Muscatine Girl Scout Troop 9402 began working on their Bronze Award by volunteering at a Muscatine American Legion flag ceremony. Through this collaboration, the two groups struck up a working relationship. This year, as the scouts started working towards their Silver Award, they decided they wanted to once again work at the Veterans area of Greenwood Cemetery, this time attending to the flag holders by each grave. “My troop is working on their Silver Award. We want to make sure that all the graves have non-broken flag holders,” elaborated Melissa McNally, Troop 9402’s leader.
As the troop started looking into acquiring and placing new flag holders for the graves that needed them, they heard that the Muscatine American Legion needed volunteers to finally make their headstone cleaning project a reality. The girls gladly offered their help, as it fit in well with their project and would help them earn the fifty volunteer hours apiece they will need to get their Silver Award. Additionally, two other Muscatine Girl Scout troops offered their help as well.
Over the two days that the Girl Scouts worked in Greenwood Cemetery, they scrubbed off and treated all the headstones in the veterans’ section in need of attention. Though the chemicals used to clean the stones take several months to fully work, volunteers could see a vast improvement already. For McNally, seeing this improvement made everyone’s hard work worth it. “It’s very rewarding to see the [results] of this project. Even though these veterans are gone, we can still honor them today . . .. [and] we can show the people serving today that there are people who care.”
Full Service Westside