It’s one of the Johnston Historical Society’s most important duties and days, and an event that in past years has unfortunately gone unnoticed. But as officials will tell you it should never be neglected.
Saturday is Historical Cemetery Clean-up Day in Rhode Island and hundreds of selected areas will be filled with volunteers like the JHS Cemetery Committee that has a passion and purpose when it comes to preserving the nearly 100 cemeteries in Johnston.
Stephen Merolla, who has spearheaded such projects in the past, said the JHS Cemetery will sponsor a special Clean-up Day at the Johnston Historical Cemetery #44 that is located at 1010 Hartford Avenue, which is also the location of Operation Stand Down. The event will begin at 9 a.m. and continue until approximately noon.
“At this point, it is thought that just about every community in the state will be taking part in Saturday’s Clean-up Day,” Merolla explained. “Cemetery #44 is unique in that of about 100 gravestones, only three of them are actually marked or inscribed. The rest are what are referred to as ‘crude’ markers, low to the ground without inscriptions.”
Last year, as Merolla explained, “our cemetery committee also picked this site as part of the statewide clean-up day. Because this cemetery had not been cleaned in nearly 20 years, there were many bushes, briars and small trees to contend with.”
There was so many of those in need of removal objects, the JHS Cemetery Committee made another five visits to remove debris to finally complete the work.
Merolla also praised the Johnston Highway Department, which “did a great job in removing the debris for us and in fact that to utilize a tractor-backhoe on a least three occasions.”
With that in mind, Merolla said “because of all the work we accomplished last year, the clean-up on Saturday should be much easier, as it will be more of a maintenance visit this time.”
Saturday’s statewide Cemetery Clean-up Day is sponsored annually by the Rhode Island Historical Cemetery Commission.