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Volunteers needed to help restore Chalmette National Cemetery

From March 7 - April 1 volunteers will work to restore the Chalmette National Cemetery (Source: National Park Service) From March 7 - April 1 volunteers will work to restore the Chalmette National Cemetery (Source: National Park Service)
ST. BERNARD PARISH, LA (WVUE) -

Preserving the history at the Chalmette National Cemetery will take experts leading a group of volunteers to restore deteriorating headstones that have mold overgrowth, show the impact of air pollution and misalignment.

 "The Chalmette National Cemetery contains vital links to important and often overlooked chapters in our nation's history, including the stories of brave women and African-Americans who fought as Union soldiers during the Civil War," said Stephanie Meeks, president and CEO of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. "The Chalmette National Cemetery Volunteer Month presents a great opportunity for the public to serve those who served for us, and demonstrates how preservation can draw the community together in support of a hallowed place, treasured by locals and visitors alike."

From March 7 to April 1, 2016 the National Trust for Historic Preservation will host a HOPE crew program to give the public a hands-on opportunity to learn about and support layers of history at the cemetery. HOPE Crew stands for "Hands-On Preservation Experience."

"The National Park Service is excited to work with our partners and community of supporters to care for Chalmette National Cemetery headstones," said Lance Hatten, Superintendent of Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park. "This is an amazing opportunity for youth to better understand our shared history as they develop the skills necessary for 21st century preservation and discover new career possibilities." 

The HOPE Crew is set to begin its work in the oldest part of the cemetery, which includes 671 headstones. The National Trust says it is the final resting place for US Colored Troops, servicemen who consisted of "free men of color" formerly known as the Louisiana Native Guard; free, mixed-race "creoles" who the Confederacy barred from joining their forces, and refugees, or "contraband" from nearby plantations who served the Union Army in exchange for food, clothing and housing for their families. 

The project is a partnership between the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the National Park Service and the National Center of Preservation Technology and Training.  Cleaning products were donated by D/2 Biological Solution, Inc. The experts overseeing the project are provided by Pierre Masonry, Texas Cemetery Restoration, Oak and Laurel Cemetery Preservation, and Monument Conservation Collaborative. 

If you'd like to volunteer or learn more about the Chalmette National Cemetery Volunteer Month visit savingplaces.org/chalmette.

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