Volunteers toil in hot weather to make Arlington National Cemetery pristine again

Arlington National Cemetery (Photo: WikiMedia Commons)

ARLINGTON, Va. (WJLA) - The day at Arlington National Cemetery began with a tribute to the country - but for the crowd gathered there on Monday, honoring Americans is a matter of action, not words.

Crews gathered at the cemetery Monday, voluntarily getting dirty as they spruced up the place.

Pushing a spreader down the aisles at Arlington can't compare to the year Army veteran Pete Kehoe spent in Iraq, but being there served as a reminder.

"I think about them every day, especially when I'm doing something like this," he said as he worked.

Kehoe lost friends in combat. You won't find their names on the hallowed ground he's tending, but by helping to pay tribute to strangers, Kehoe said he is also paying his respects to the soldiers he knew.

"It does help the healing process to go back and remember the great things they did and that they did die for something bigger and better than us," he explained.

In addition to the dozens of veterans, there were hundreds of other volunteer landscapers focused on 180 acres at the cemetery. They said this is their small way of giving back to the people buried on this massive property

"We may work all day and sweat and toil, but at the end of the day, they gave everything," said Jim McCutcheon, president of the Planet organization, or Professional Landcare Network, which organizes the volunteering efforts. "So this is easy for us."

Volunteers with Planet worked top to bottom Monday to make the final resting place for so many pristine. Many said the selfless act was overwhelming, as many veterans served their country again - this time in a different way - honoring the fallen by taking steps to preserve their memory.