By Melissa Bower, Fort Leavenworth LampOctober 28, 2010
FORT LEAVENWORTH, Kan. (Oct. 28, 2010) - When workers fixing up the Fort Leavenworth National Cemetery saw the U.S. Disciplinary Barracks Cemetery, they wanted to do something to make it look nicer, too.
Pablo Zarrabal, superintendent at Silver Star Construction, and a few other employees volunteered their time to power wash and bleach stones at the historic USDB Cemetery.
The USDB Cemetery was established in 1884 as the burial site for military prisoners. After World War II, 14 German prisoners of war were buried there after being executed by hanging. Burials continued there until the 1950s. The cemetery has about 250 headstones.
Zarrabal said he was pleased to do something to make it look nicer.
"I saw the stones and I just got this feeling in my heart," he said. "They used to be Soldiers, too. They're human beings, too."
Although they didn't dig up and reset each individual stone as they are doing in the National Cemetery, Zarrabal and his crew spent a few hours cleaning up the stones.
Robert Beardsley, cultural resources manager for the Directorate of Logistics and Public Works, said all the crew needed was a water tank for the job.
"It was one of those nice gestures that I'm glad we could take advantage of," Beardsley said.
The last major cleanup of the USDB Cemetery was part of a 2005 project by Eagle Scout Joshua Meeks. Five years ago, the Leavenworth High School junior led a group of eight Scouts and six adults on the project. They installed a kiosk display along Sheridan Drive to show information about the prisoners buried there. They cleaned the stones and trimmed the trees as well.
Beardsley said other than the work done by the Scouts, not much has been done at the USDB Cemetery. He doesn't think anyone has direct responsibility for its upkeep.
"That cemetery is kind of abandoned," he said. "Nobody will claim it. We've been keeping it mowed, but that's about as much as we can justify."
At least for now, Zarrabal said, the stones have been washed.
"I felt good after I walked in and saw the stones were clean," he said.