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County seeks grant for gravemarkers in township cemeteries

News Photo by Steve Schulwitz Alpena County Veteran Affairs Director George Stevens shows what new gravemarkers and flags would look like if they are installed at cemeteries in county townships. The Veterans Affairs Office applied for a grant to purchase gravemarkers and flags for area veterans’ graves.

ALPENA — The Alpena County Veteran Affairs office is working to place gravemarkers and American flags at the graves of veterans around the county.

The office applied for a $7,600 grant from the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency for the project, county Veterans Service Officer Dan Perge said. The office also has $2,000 leftover from a prior project that it plans to contribute to the memorials in township cemeteries without their own veteran grave program.

“They will be used as a way to honor the veterans in the township cemeteries, and we should find out if we got the grant this week, I hope,” Perge said.

Alpena already honors veterans at the city-owned cemetery with gravemarkers and flags, but most townships have few memorials outside of what family or friends plant or place near the graves, Perge said.

If the office wins the grant, Perge will begin working with township officials to get an accurate count of how many veterans’ graves need markers.

“We haven’t quite got to that point, but we will be working with the townships to determine what we need to do and go over logistics like who will place them,” Perge said. “Right now, we’re just getting things going.”.

Veteran Affairs Director George Stevens said township graves contain the bodies of soldiers dating back to the Civil War and every war after, buried in cemeteries large and small around the county.

He said people enjoy walking through cemeteries and admiring the gravestones, learning about those who died. Adding the gravemarkers will add to that experience, Stevens said.

Tammy Bates, trustee in Green Township, where there are two cemeteries, Greely Cemetery and Spratt Cemetery, said the township is always looking for ways to improve its parks, cemeteries, and facilities, but it’s hard to do so with so little wiggle room in the budget.

“People take pride in their cemeteries, and this will help to make it look better, while honoring the veterans appropriately,” Bates said. “Right now, we have identified 63 veterans that we know of. We may inject some more help from people, because there could be some that we haven’t identified. We want to include everybody, if possible.”

Stevens said people always show up in large numbers for Memorial Day and Veterans Day, when there are special parades and ceremonies at Little Flander’s Field.

He said the Avenue of Flags set up along Washington Avenue by the Alpena Kiwanis Club and Alpena Booster Club is another example of how the community supports military heroes.

“Sometimes, you can drive or walk by Evergreen Cemetery and there are American flags as far as you can see, and it is just great,” he said. “The people in the area have always had a deep respect and appreciation for veterans, so we’ll see where this goes. We’ll know more about the grant soon.”

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