The town of Sweden is pushing forward with a project to document and recognize all veterans buried in the five cemeteries owned by the town.
“The goal of the project is simple. We’re working to recognize and honor all those buried in our cemeteries here in the town of Sweden who’ve served our country in some way,” said Sweden Town Supervisor Kevin Johnson.
Lakeview cemetery will kick start the project in Sweden. The town is looking for volunteers to help place flags on veteran graves for Memorial Day.
"The maps we use to locate those graves are antiquated, and they’re actually drawings, they’re not truly maps. So the idea here is to take drone photography, use nice sharp overhead photography and imagery and then have a group of volunteers go throughout those five cemeteries, locate every grave of a veteran they can find, then we’ll plot them on these maps,” Johnson said.
In addition to using drone photography, a team of volunteers and genealogist will take part in the project to gain as much information as possible.
"The five cemeteries we own, several of them 200 years old plus, and there are some records, but the records at a couple of the oldest cemeteries are scant. In fact, they don’t even exist, so we don’t even have an inventory of the names of people in the cemetery, much less whether they were veterans or not," Johnson said.
The team of genealogist will research the graves of those with names and birthdays to see if there are more than the 500 documented veterans buried in the town’s cemeteries.
"We anticipate that number may not double, but I suspect we’ll have a 50% increase at least (to) 750 to 1000 names. I wouldn’t be surprised at all,” he said.
The project holds a special place in the hearts of Nicholas Reid’s parents. Reid was killed in action in Afghanistan. His parents had the option to bury him at the Arlington National Cemetery, but choose to keep him near his home at the Lakeview cemetery.
”I think this will mean a lot because there’s probably people that are being missed that are in the cemetery,” said Nicholas’ father Ken Reid.
The city hopes to have the project completed in time for Memorial Day in 2020.
“It’s also a continuation of history so that the young people in this country, if they happen to go there with grandparents, then there’s a story there and that story then becomes part of their story for the history,” said Nicholas’ mother Dorothy Reid.
The parents said it’s heartwarming to see flags placed on the graves of people that served.
"It’s a sign of respect and you know these men gave their lives, they gave their service for this country and I think it’s right that we show respect and do something for them," Ken said.