The National Trust for Historic Preservation's HOPE Crew, a program connecting people to preservation trades and breathing new life into historic landmarks, has announced an expert-led, volunteer-driven, and hands-on project at Stones River National Cemetery in Murfreesboro to clean and preserve the site's nationally significant headstones. On Saturday, October 20, 2018, from 9AM-1PM, in partnership with the National Park Service and the National Center for Preservation Technology and Training, HOPE Crew project participants will take part in Stones River National Cemetery Volunteer Day, a unique opportunity for the public, regardless of skill or ability, to gain a deeper understanding of the captivating layers of history at the final resting place for thousands of veterans.
"We're looking forward to enlisting the efforts of hundreds of volunteers and exploring the stories behind this iconic battlefield landscape," said Monica Rhodes, director of the National Trust's HOPE Crew program. "Volunteer Day at Stones River National Cemetery is an excellent example of how teaching valuable preservation skills and techniques can help a community come together to sustain a hallowed place. These efforts are especially critical in light of the deferred maintenance challenges facing our public parks and cemeteries across the country."
The 111th United States Colored Infantry began reinterring the remains of Union soldiers in Stones River National Cemetery in 1865. The cemetery became part of Stones River National Battlefield in 1927 and is one of 14 national cemeteries managed by the National Park Service. More than 6,100 Union soldiers who perished during the American Civil War, of which 2,562 are unknown, lie in the 12-acre cemetery along with nearly 1,000 veterans who served after the Civil War through the 1970s.
"We're excited to offer the public an opportunity to connect with this hallowed ground through volunteerism," said Stones River National Battlefield Chief Ranger Jim Lewis. "We hope our work together on October 20th will inspire our volunteers to continue their service here or at other sites in our community."
During the one-day volunteer event, supported by a donation of preservation-friendly cleaning products from D/2 Biological Solutions, Inc. and Cemetery Preservation Supply LLC, community members (aged 14 and older) will be trained on how to clean and preserve the deteriorating headstones, which are suffering from biological staining, the effects of air pollution, and misalignment. Families, genealogists, photographers, historians, anthropologists, outdoor enthusiasts, active military, veterans, students, and all curious individuals will find something to learn and love among the old stones--already confirmed, members of the Florida-based The Good Cemeterian Historical Preservation Project will be joining and sharing their experiences as well.
"We're proud to support another HOPE Crew project on national public land," said Ted Kinnari, president of D/2 Biological Solutions, Inc. "We value the contribution of volunteers and their effort to ensure that the remembrance of those buried at Stones River National Cemetery is maintained for the next generation of Americans."
James "Rusty" Brenner of Cemetery Preservation Supply, LLC said, "We are looking forward to training volunteers and students while sharing our knowledge and passion for historic preservation."
Since the start of the program in 2014, the HOPE Crew program (named for "Hands-On Preservation Experience") has completed more than 165 projects, trained more than 750 young people in preservation trades, and recruited over 3,500 volunteers to protect historic structures on public lands, including: Chalmette National Cemetery in Louisiana; Custer National Cemetery in Montana; and Raleigh National Cemetery in North Carolina.
For more information about Stones River National Cemetery Volunteer Day and to register as a volunteer, please visit:www.savingplaces.org/stones-river-national-cemetery