The graves of military veterans in Greenleaf Cemetery have been decorated with American flags as Memorial Day approaches.
The historic cemetery was established in 1868, and is the final resting place for 1,200 to 1,300 veterans, Greenleaf board member Steve Harris said.
Approximately 22,000 graves have been placed at Greenleaf Cemetery over the years, Office Manager Freda Day said.
“The flags are donated by several of the veterans organizations,” Harris said. “We use them for as many years as we can, but we need new ones as the old ones wear out.”
While flag placement has been completed this year, Harris said volunteers are still needed to help the staff with various duties. For example, winds from recent thunderstorms have knocked over some of the floral tributes, which need to be righted, and small tree limbs were scattered across the grounds.
“We have a lot of work to do, but not a lot of staff,” Harris said.
Harris said the cemetery is preparing for an increased number of visits by family members over the Memorial Day weekend. An influx of others from out-of-town is also anticipated during the second weekend in June, when Cross Plains hosts Robert E. Howard Days. The fantasy fiction writer who lived in Cross Plains is buried at Greenleaf Cemetery. Students of the author’s works converge on Cross Plains each year near the anniversary of his death June 11, 1936.
Meanwhile, the fundraising campaign begun earlier this month by the board in partnership with Keep Brownwood Beautiful is ongoing.
“Our cemetery has many needs, but has always had the support of so many in our community,” Greenleaf Cemetery board president Connie Wyatt said when the campaign was announced three weeks ago. “With the help of the community, we strive to show honor and respect to those whose memories we cherish so dearly.”
Cary Perrin, program coordinator for Keep Brownwood Beautiful, added, “With the interest in genealogy growing, cemeteries are now considered destination locations. Greenleaf is steeped in history, and we need to treat it as the treasure that it is.”
Perpetual care cemeteries like Greenleaf are required by Texas law to invest a portion of the purchase price of each plot, with only the interest available for use. At one time, when interest rates were high, the return on those investments could largely support Greenleaf. Now, with interest rates low, that is no longer possible. The income that supported the cemetery is reduced to a trickle, but the expenses have only grown.
“Many families purchased their plots decades ago, when prices were low compared to today,” Harris said. “The money set aside from them for perpetual care was used long ago.
The cemetery has an endowment fund, but only interest from its investments can be spent under state law.
“This cemetery has been maintained through the generations and has been handed down to us,” Harris added. “It’s our turn now. There are people throughout the United States who have an interest in Greenleaf Cemetery. We just need to let them know that we have these needs.”
Donations to the cemetery should be made payable to Keep Brownwood Beautiful, with a memo on the check that it is for Greenleaf Cemetery, and sent to P.O. Box 455, Brownwood, TX 76801. They may also be taken to the cemetery office on the Brady Highway during business hours. The telephone number is (325) 646-6919. Information is also available on its website at www.greenleafcemetery.org.