It takes a village to maintain its sites and commemorate meaningful holidays. 

On Saturday, May 18, from 8 a.m. to noon, volunteers will gather for a community clean-up at the San Fernando Pioneer Memorial Cemetery to get it ready for the Memorial Day Observance on May 27.

Members of the community are invited to help clear the old graveyard, now full of overgrown weeds due to the extra rainfall this year, and to remove any litter or debris that has collected recently. Volunteers are encouraged to bring garden hand tools (rakes, weed removers, battery powered trimmers), gloves, and trash bags.

Refreshments and lunch will be provided to volunteers and parking will be available inside the cemetery (use the Bledsoe Street gate).

“This year the clean-up is of particular importance,” said Jacky Walker, co-chair of the Pioneer Cemetery Committee of the San Fernando Valley Historical Society, which owns the historic cemetery.

“Our beloved caretaker — David L. Vasquez of San Fernando — who volunteered at the cemetery for over 15 years, has passed,” Walker said. “We are so grateful for all the years he devoted to keeping the cemetery roses and trees in healthy condition, and we hope to honor his memory with this effort to shape up the grounds in time for our Memorial Day ceremony.”

The historic cemetery, established in 1874 and closed in 1939, is the second oldest graveyard in the San Fernando Valley where local residents, immigrants, and five Civil War veterans are buried. The heavily-vandalized cemetery is supported entirely through donations and volunteers.

The Memorial Day Observance will be held at the cemetery on  May 27 from 11 a.m. to noon. The 17th annual observance will include a wreath laying ceremony, U.S. flag-raising, rifle salute, and the playing of “Taps.”

Other program participants include Communities in Schools, the Marine Corps League-San Fernando Detachment #1277 and American Legion Post 176.

Also on display will be more than 500 death certificates of individuals buried at the cemetery that were previously unconfirmed, a new discovery by a local researcher that further evolves the 145-year-old cemetery’s story.

The cemetery is located at 14451 Bledsoe Street, at the corner of Foothill Boulevard (exit Roxford or Polk off the 210 Freeway). For additional information, call (818) 970-1286.

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