Students honor veterans with spring cleaning at cemetery

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SUAMICO, Wis (WBAY) – It’s a community service project in Suamico, carried out by students, to honor veterans.

The tradition leading up to Memorial Day at the Suamico Cemetery carries deep meaning for Mike Sheedy.

“Since I was a little kid the VFW put the flags out, but almost all of those guys are gone now so the last few years I’ve been doing it myself,” says Sheedy, a Vietnam veteran.

Thursday, though, Sheedy has some eager helping hands.

“There’s headstones here that over the years have been kind of abandoned by the family. The kids have cleaned the tops of them off. And some are overgrown, they cut them back to the edge of the headstones. And they really get into it, they really enjoy it, they look forward to it,” says Sheedy.

110 Bay View Middle School 8th graders make up Sheedy’s work crew.

Along with giving the cemetery a good spring cleaning, they’re planting flowers and placing flags on the grave of every veteran, dating back to the Civil War.

“I really hope that were helping them out and making them feel good, because I know there’s a lot of veterans in this cemetery and I know it means a lot to them,” says Bay View 8th grader Chris Vannieuwenhoven.

“And if you look around, there’s a lot of flags and stuff and that just shows that there’s a lot of people that helped us where we are today,” adds 8th grader Brynn Van Remortel.

And for Sheedy, who just a few months ago joined 51 other local veterans on a historic Honor Flight to Vietnam, organizing service projects like this and connecting with youth means more than ever before.

“The ability to demonstrate and to give back to the community I think it a huge part of that trip and I think there’s a lot of guys on that trip that were involved in a lot of stuff and probably more so now. It was a life-altering trip,” says Sheedy.

Courtney Terlecki

Courtney Terlecki

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