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Indiana Veterans Memorial Cemetery Staff Welcomes Help Reseting Headstones
Updated October 15, 2014 10:21 AM
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(MADISON) - Staff at the Indiana Veterans Memorial Cemetery (IVMC) in Madison, Indiana, and offenders at the Henryville Correctional Facility in nearby Henryville, will work together to raise and straighten 803 headstones at the IVMC during a three-day partnership project beginning October 21.

Weather takes a toll on the headstones, causing them to shift and become misaligned over time.

Resetting the headstones is done twice each year and has been accomplished traditionally by the staff at the IVMC, said Alan Burnham, Superintendent of the IVMC. This year, he said they are reestablishing a partnership program last used in 2009 that allows non-violent offenders incarcerated at the Henryville Correctional Facility to assist the IVMC staff reset headstones at this 45-acre facility.

"To all who are involved, this is an assignment undertaken willingly and with the utmost reverence," said Alan Burnham, Superintendent of the IVMC. "It's a wonderful example of two state agencies working together to do what needs to be done not just effectively and efficiently, but respectfully."

Ron Gibson, superintendent of the Henryville Correctional Facility, said, "We are excited to assist in this project. To be able to give back to the community is something that we take great pride in doing within the Department of Correction. When you add in that it is completing a task to honor our veterans, it makes it that much more satisfying. The offenders are excited and proud that they will get the opportunity to assist in the project and is a great lesson in giving back to communities in a positive way."

Each headstone weighs 280 pounds. Indiana's changing weather conditions can cause them to sink unevenly into the ground. Burnham said when he and his staff do the work themselves, it takes them a month. Hiring outside contractors to accomplish the labor could cost thousands of dollars. By partnering with Henryville, Burnham said the offenders are helping their communities and paying their respects to those who have served their country. "Surviving veterans appreciate what they are doing and the veterans' loved ones are very grateful," Burnham said. "From that standpoint, you can't put a value on the depth of our appreciation for the help we receive from them."

The realignment will take place rain or shine beginning at 8:00am (EST) on October 21. Members of the American Legion Post 9 and VFW Auxiliary, Ladies of North Madison Christian Church, Madison Kroger's and Morgan Nay Funeral Centre will provide meals each day for the IVMC staff and offender volunteers.

The IVMC is the only state-operated Veteran Cemetery in the state and operates under a state cemetery grant in association with the National Cemetery Administration (NCA). It follows the same guidelines and procedures as the NCA and through the NCA, providing all markers (headstones), outer burial containers and columbarium at no cost interments for veterans, spouses and dependents.

The IVMC is adjacent to the Madison State Hospital Grounds and is located two miles south of the intersection of SR 62 and SR 7 at 1415 North Gate Road, Madison, IN 47250.

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