75 years after D-Day, group cleans up cemetery in honor of fallen soldiers

Marine Corps veteran leads Lowe's coworkers in cleanup at Oak Grove Cemetery

By Kent Justice - Anchor/reporter, Quan McWil, News4Jax news intern

ST. MARYS, Ga. - As Thursday marked 75 years since the D-Day operation, a group of Lowe's employees cleaned up gravesites and headstones to pay tribute to those who laid down their lives and turned the tide in World War II.

One of those employees was Glenn Cardenas, who is a third-generation veteran. 

“My father and my grandfather both served. My grandfather was in World War II," said Cardenas, who followed in those footsteps and served four years in the Marine Corps.

While he works for an area Lowe's store, he decided to go above and beyond to honor 75 years since Operation Overlord -- leading colleagues in cleaning up at a Camden County cemetery.

"It kind of gives me chills every time I hear about what happened on the beaches in Normandy 75 years ago," Cardenas said.

The Oak Grove Cemetery in St. Marys is the resting place of many veterans who served in different wars. One, in particular, stood out Thursday.

“This is the grave of Wesley Robinson III, 2nd Lt. USA Airforce. 446 group, 704th squadron. Normandy, WWII," pointed out cemetery chairwoman Kay Westberry.

Westberry said Thursday's anniversary makes the gesture by the group of Lowe's employees even more special in honor of the fallen soldiers. 

“We had a great opportunity to donate some supplies, as well as bring out some volunteers to do some cleanup works," said Lowe's store manager Jason Pennington. "So I thought it’s a great opportunity for us to come out and contribute and pay our respect to all of our veterans active and retired and our fallen soldiers here.”

Seeing the headstones blackened by age and dirt, Cardenas and his coworkers helped donate equipment and clean up the site.

“There’s not too many vets left out there who can say that they were there. We got to cherish them and be proud of what they did and take days like this into account thinking about decisions moving forward," Cardenas said.

The historic Oak Grove Cemetery is 233 years old. The group also told News4Jax that it will come out again in November for further restorative and cleanup works with local groundskeepers.

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