IMPERIAL, Calif. – They were sweaty and tired cleaning the old Memory Gardens Cemetery on a hot Saturday morning. But David Burns, son of a veteran, explains why he’s there.
“I think anybody with conscience would know or should know that this is the right thing to do,” Burns said.
He’s talking about their efforts to show respect to the veterans buried there in a place he says appears neglected and forgotten. Veteran Jesse Chavarria says he’s there to support fellow veterans.
“The fellow brother interested in this is a Vietnam veteran so that’s the least we can do,” Chavarria said.
Volunteer Genie Williams has several family members buried there.
“I remember back in the day when it was nice and green. It’s not that way anymore. So hopefully this will start a rolling ball,” Williams said.
Organizer Cruz Abarca said it’s the first of many cleanup days at the cemetery on Highway 86, between the city of Imperial and Brawley.
“These veterans and people buried out here deserve the same respect and honor that everybody else in any of the other cemeteries deserve,” Abarca said.
First they will identify all those resting there, he said.
“Break this off in sections so we can start looking for the headstones we need to raise,” Abarca said.
Abarca has been concerned about the condition of the cemetery for years and has brought this situation up to county officials with no results, he explains.
“So after all this time of trying to go through the system, try to do the right thing, trying to get these people aware that this needed to be addressed,” Abarca said.
Abarca say he doesn’t know who owns the cemetery but he plans to return the following Saturday and to keep returning until he feels the right thing has been done.
“To give respect to the ones that lay here,” said Jaime Abarca, son of Cruz Abarca.