By Tate Luckey —
Located along 40th Street and Hale Avenue, Greenwood Cemetery is where hundreds of Black military veterans are buried, but it is one of the many historic African American cemeteries across the nation that have been neglected. In an effort to both give back to the community and honor the veterans, Nakia Strickland and Lance West, as well as the National Association for Black Veterans (NABVETS), Region VI spearheaded the “Eagles to Rest Project” which is focused on restoring the Greenwood Cemetery.
The project teamed up with the University of Louisville’s Alumni Center, the Office of Community Engagement along with the Cultural Center in an effort to promote the project and get more students and alumni involved with the project.
It became clear by visiting the cemetery how much restoration was needed. Headstones were tilted and dirty, trash lined outer walls; not at all respectful for the sacrifices the veterans had made.
“The goal of the project is to provide the veterans with dignity, care and respect in death that they had been denied in life,” Strickland said. Taking place every Saturday morning from February through March, as well as one weekend in late April, volunteers can register and help clean.
The pandemic, fortunately, hasn’t put a damper on turnout.
“It’s been greater than we could have ever expected. We were unsure of what to expect regarding attendees but, our expectations were surpassed by everyone who showed up to volunteer,” West said. Volunteers wear facemasks and are spread out amongst the grounds. Any who come are encouraged to bring their own supplies, too.
Shedrick Jones Sr., who is the Region VI commander of the NABVETS, brought the project to Louisville.
“The spiritual part of it and the respect that goes with a cemetery, all of that has to be taught,” he said in an interview with WLKY. According to Strickland and West, there is still more work to do in the 19-acre cemetery, including clearing out branches and removing debris from headstones.
The last weekends to join and help are March 27 and April 24 from 8:30 a.m.–11:30 a.m. at Greenwood Cemetery.
Photos by Anthony Riley // The Louisville Cardinal