FORT DEFIANCE, AZ Armed with weed whackers, shovels,
rakes and gloves, over a dozen people marched into the Fort Defiance
Veterans Cemetery Friday with one mission: clean it up.
As a way to show their fellow veterans they are not forgotten,
members of the Tsehootsooi Twin Warrior Society banded together
to host the all-day clean-up.
The Tsehootsooi Twin Warrior Society started in 1989. It was
named "Twin Warrior Society" to honor both male and female veterans,
said Bill Watchmen, society member and a U.S. Army veteran.
Society member Eugene Atcitty, U.S. Navy veteran, said the event
was hosted because the veterans who have been buried at cemetery,
and all veterans past and present, are very important.
"There is love there for their fellow comrades," Atcitty said.
He added it was nice seeing all the people come out and clean the
cemetery, not only cleaning their family's graves but those of other
"We are living in a country where people died for our freedom,"
Earl W. Milford, society member and U.S. Army Vietnam veteran,
said being able to clean up the grave sites for fellow veterans
makes him feel better because when he returned from the war he suffered
from survivors' guilt, always asking why he came back and others
"To this day I still get feelings of survivors' guilt and working
here in a way makes me feel better that they're not forgotten, that
I'm doing something," Milford said, adding that whenever the Twin
Warrior Society does a burial for a fellow comrade he likes to remind
them of a saying from an unknown soldier in World War II, "I am
not afraid to die for my country, but I am afraid to be forgotten."
Pulling out tumbleweed after tumbleweed, the clean-up volunteers
showed their respect for each fallen warrior by cleaning up his
or her resting place.
"I think it's the right thing to do to pay tribute to those
who gave the ultimate sacrifice for us, for our freedom," said Pastor
Lance Hawley, who served in the U.S. Army during peace time, adding
that this is a way to help keep these soldiers' memory alive.
"It makes me feel proud that I have brothers in arms. I may
not know them by name or by face but they're veterans like I am,
and they were willing to give up themselves and I'm willing to do
what I can to pay it back," Hawley added.