MELBOURNE, Fla. (WOFL FOX 35) - It is a cemetery forgotten by time. Now, two friends are taking it on themselves to restore honor to the dead.
The Shady Oaks Cemetery, in Melbourne, Florida, dates back to the early 1900s. Some of the deceased were veterans, and their headstones are in disrepair. Many of the markers no longer have -- or never did have -- names on them, and some are cracked and crumbling. A flag flapping at the entrance was put up by two pals with a sense of patriotic duty.
The graveyard has some mysteries and Bruce Rothchild is involved in the project to get the hollowed grounds fixed up.
“What we saw was wrong,” Rothchild said.
Rothchild has a daughter who graduated from West Point, his father and father-in-law served, and his best friend Michael is a veteran. So for Bruce, the fact that those who wore our country's uniform are in sorry looking resting places- that has to change.
“Whatever we can do to help these people who have been forgotten and lost, frankly, we’re not even sure if we found all the graves,” Rothchild said.
Indeed, some of the graves are overgrown and there could be graves entirely hidden by vegetation.
The cemetery was created in 1912, by the African American community. The land was owned by a family with the last name Tucker, but as it stands, no one is maintaining the cemetery.
But Rothchild has friends in high places, and he said Hollywood funnyman Chevy Chase and his wife are donating to the grassroots effort to restore dignity here. There’s a Go Fund Me page too.
“We were just out there last weekend cleaning up and we’re going to be back out there February 3rd,” Rothchild said.
There’s about 75 graves. The group hopes to raise about $15,000 to make repairs.