Local Organization honors veterans with memorial at Riverdale Cemetery

Updated: Oct. 28, 2017 at 5:44 PM EDT
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(Source: Jose Zozaya/WTVM)
(Source: Jose Zozaya/WTVM)

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - A special projects month in the making, honoring the sacrifice of American military veterans who came back home but suffered through hardships up to their final days.

It's a labor of love for the men and women who've died serving our country.

"We reached out to the City of Columbus' Public Works, and they were talking about doing this project, and then they heard about us and decided,'Hey, this is what we need to partner up to do together," says Hai Clay, Platoon Leader of Mission Continues Columbus.

Mission Continues, a nonprofit organization supporting veterans who are adjusting to life at home, is teaming up with Columbus' Public Works to build a memorial for these soldiers who weren't able to receive a proper burial.

James Mang with Columbus Public Works says, "We did a little investigating, trying to find out what we could do for the veterans that were indigents, that didn't get a proper burial. We went to several national cemeteries to see what they had for their veterans and if there was something that we could do similarly."

A year after the first idea, work is underway for a new, final resting place for these veterans at Riverdale Cemetery known as a columbarium.

"A columbarium is a place for ashes, cremated remains," says Mang.

Mang says with funeral costs and the limited space in Columbus' four existing cemeteries, many veterans may have opted for cremation - specifically, indigent cremations because they could not pay for any other burial.

"We're actually looking at 14 urns per row."

Meaning the city could place nearly 2,000 urns in this special space.

"Obviously, when they said 'veterans,' that's when we come running," says Clay.

Clay and dozens of volunteers offered their time and energy helping public works employees get the columbarium finished before Veterans Day.

"We will not let the ones in the past be forgotten," says Clay. "That's why we're doing this today."

Pat Lidell  with Veterans Outreach and Mission Continues Columbus says, "Veterans need to know that and they need to know that there's somebody out here that's fighting for them."

Public Works says the columbarium will be ready by November 10, when they will host an official ceremony commemorating this final resting place for thousands of soldiers.

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