Community gathers to clean up historical cemetery in Edinburg

10 months 3 weeks 2 days ago Monday, January 16 2023 Jan 16, 2023 January 16, 2023 6:00 PM January 16, 2023 in News - Local

One Valley volunteer is doing a community effort to keep a cemetery clean.

That specific cemetery is more than just a piece of Valley history but also a piece of her family’s history.

Sabrina Walker Hernandez spent her morning cleaning up the Historic Restlawn Cemetery in Edinburg, an effort she’s been a part of since she moved to the Valley in 2005.

"I have family that's buried here, and they came as part of the military,” Hernandez said. “Lewis Callis, he was in the air force, and he was stationed here through Fort Moore, and he chose to continue to stay here."

Like Hernandez’s fourth cousin Callis, serving in the military is what brought her to the Valley.

"It's really amazing that the Valley drew both of us here and I'm really appreciative of this community and the way this community has gravitated around the cemetery and taking care of it,” Hernandez said.

The Restlawn Cemetery was established as a burial place for African-American families in the 1920s.

"At the time it was like a ranch cemetery where you had to take care—-family had to take care of their own graves and so since there was no family, the community had to pick it up and take care of it,” Hernandez said.

And that’s just what they did.

Valeria Goerlitz-Ramirez was part of the initial clean-up effort in 1993.

"We worked on it, we tore up equipment trying to hack our way through,” Ramirez said.

Thirty-years later, that effort has grown, and her hard work has paid off.

"It's very emotional,” Ramirez said. "Because it means that people care that people know and people care."

This year's turnout has more than doubled. It went from 25 people last year to over 50 people this year, and it's about cleaning up this cemetery and remembering some of these stories.

And for people like Hernandez, the legacy of service left behind by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. does not stop there.

Watch the video above for the full story.

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