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BLUFFDALE — This Independence Day weekend, many Utahns will visit the graves of their loved ones who served in the military. Those who go to the Utah Veterans Cemetery in Bluffdale will discover a makeover just getting under way.
During a recent visit to the cemetery, KSL New met Max Lemoine Whitten. He was a sharp shooter in Europe in World War II.
We're just trying to do the best we can for our honored veterans.
–Arnold Warner, grounds supervisor.
"I've got all the respect in the world for everyone up here," the 94-year-old said, "because I know what they went through."
He visits often, to place flowers on his wife's grave. His brother, also a World War II vet, is buried here as well.
Whitten and others paying respects at the cemetery this summer will see large sections of dead grass and bare dirt. Substantial grounds work begins in the next couple of weeks.
"We're just trying to do the best we can for our honored veterans," said Arnold Warner, the cemetery's grounds supervisor.
The National Cemetery Administration recently gave the cemetery a $4.2 million grant. Warner and his crew will use some of the money to raise and align the headstones that have settled over time.
"We use heavy equipment on it. And over time, by driving on it, they shift back and forth," Warner explained.
We have a passion to make the cemetery the most beautiful and honorable cemetery that we can possibly make for veterans.
–Craig V. Morgan, projects coordinator
Craig V. Morgan, the cemetery's projects coordinator, honors his father who is buried here. He says each headstone will be removed, and then put back in place. "They will all be at ground height, strait and aligned," he said.
Morgan says the grounds keepers will take great care with each of the 4,000 headstones in the process. "The stones will be in exactly the same place," he said.
Wild grasses and weeds have also invaded the manicured lawn. That will all be torn out and replaced with new sod.
Cemetery operations will go on throughout the renovation. Visitors can contact the administration office to locate existing graves while the headstones are removed.
"We have a passion to make the cemetery the most beautiful and honorable cemetery that we can possibly make for veterans," Morgan said.
That care and concern means a lot to veterans like Whitten. "I enjoy that very much and know that in time, I'll be here with her," he said.
The beautification should be complete in the early fall.