Project to repair damaged headstones in historic Cleveland cemetery complete

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CLEVELAND -- The Cleveland Grays Militia and the Sons and Daughters of the American Revolution gathered at Cleveland's Erie Street Cemetery on Tuesday, to mark the completion of a project to restore damaged tombstones at the oldest cemetery in the city.

Over the Labor Day weekend last year, vandals knocked over 30 headstones from their bases, cracking some of the markers that date back to the creation of the cemetery in 1827. The vandalism struck a nerve with Clevelanders, whose ancestors are buried here, and those with a sense of history. John Franklin, a member of the Sons of the American Revolution, told Fox 8 News, "I was very upset to see that happen here.  It's kind of like you're beating up on somebody and they can't fight back."

The Daughters of the American Revolution spearheaded a campaign to raise funds to repair the damaged grave markers and restore others that have faded over the passage of time.

"These people gave up everything they had.  There are 168 veterans in here, from the American Revolution, the Spanish-American War, 1812 and the Civil War, and even the smallest tomb here deserves that respect," said Jennie Jones, of the Daughters of the American Revolution.

Organizers of the restoration project say the vandals unintentionally helped improve the cemetery by focusing new attention on its historical significance.

"So, in some ways, I want to thank them. You know, the Bible says those things that are often intended for evil, God can use for good, and so, I give thanks today that God is using what was perhaps intended for evil for good," said Reverend Dr. Mark Giuliano of the Old Stone Church.

Supporters of the cemetery are now planning new projects to improve the property, and would like to add security measures to prevent vandalism in the future.