St. Mary’s Veteran Restoration Project – Adopt a Soldier

Posted on July 23, 2020 by Jennifer Mele under Preservation, St. Mary's Cemetery Troy, Troy, Uncategorized, Veterans and Military
4 Comments

We make a promise as a nation never to forget our veterans, and never doesn’t have an expiration date. Therefore, we’re introducing a program during 2020-2021 in historic St. Mary’s Cemetery in Troy, NY to clean and restore veteran gravestones and markers, assuring that our veterans are buried in properly marked graves.

Albany Diocesan Cemeteries Adopt a Soldier – Veterans’ Memorial Restoration Project

Albany Diocesan Cemeteries Historian Kelly Grimaldi and our summer intern Maria Santacruz working on one of the veteran stones at St. Mary’s.

Albany Diocesan Cemeteries Historian Kelly Grimaldi and our summer intern Maria Santacrose working on one of the veteran stones at St. Mary’s.

Founded in 1844, there are soldiers in St. Mary’s Cemetery that served during the Civil War, the Vietnam War and even more recent conflicts.  Many of the older gravestones have deteriorated over time because of the elements. We would like to reverse that as best we can by cleaning the veteran gravestones – making them legible again and resetting as many fallen gravestones as possible.

We welcome the community to Adopt a Soldier:

  • $50 will Sponsor a Veterans Gravestone Cleaning
  • $125 will Sponsor a Veterans Gravestone Cleaning and Reset, restoring the veteran’s gravestone to as close to the original state as possible – helping preserve it for generations.

If you wish, you can choose a specific soldier from a list of over 130 soldiers in St. Mary’s which provides (if legible) the veteran’s name, current photo of the marker or monument, US state, branch, rank, unit, what war they fought in, date of birth and death. Interested in sponsoring restoration of a monument or marker within another of our 19 cemeteries? Call us and we will add it to our restoration work!

With your sponsorship, you can also choose to Adopt A Soldier in memory of a loved one, and/or publish your name, company or organization name, or “in memory of” adoption information on our Adopt A Soldier list.

Adopt A Soldier list example photo


If you would like to participate and Adopt A Soldier, you can download our Adopt A Soldier form here, or contact Kelly Grimaldi, Historian for Albany Diocesan Cemeteries at (518) 350-7679 or [email protected]

We’re very disappointed this year, due to the pandemic, we are unable to offer our popular volunteer workshops where people learn proper cleaning and repair techniques and assist in a restoration project. It’s a fun way to connect with other community members.  Our “Adopt a Soldier” project is a safe way for people to be part of cemetery restoration in a different, but still meaningful manner.”     – Kelly Grimaldi, Historian for Albany Diocesan Cemeteries

On September 28, a small but mighty group of volunteers from St. Thomas the Apostle Church assisted with the restoration project. In just over 2 hours they cleaned 12 gravestones and unearthed 23 markers that we will be cleaning and re-setting over the next few weeks. Thank you St. Thomas volunteers!

Albany Diocesan Cemeteries takes our commitment to uphold and honor our veterans service to heart and hold true to that promise by doing what we can to restore as many of the memorials of these long deceased veterans as possible.

Watch a video update about the project by Kelly Grimaldi.

Thank you all for your support!


In The News:

Times Union article:
Cleaning veterans headstones in Troy salutes their service – Adopt A Veteran Restoration Project started this year at St. Mary’s Cemetery, by Kenneth C. Crowe II, Sept. 4, 2020

The Evangelist article:
‘Adopt a Soldier’ at St. Mary’s Cemetery in Troy, by Franchesca Caputo, August 27, 2020

Photo showing the progression of restoration.

The progression of restoration. The first stone was cleaned weeks ago, the middle ones more recently, and the remaining stones have yet to be cleaned.


Why are there fallen grave markers and monuments in a cemetery?

Cemetery monuments are exposed to heat, frost, pollutants and often are breeding grounds for lichen, mold and moss.  The frost and thaw of spring and fall grounds can up-heave stones and foundations, especially with older set monuments. Black stains and biological growth on monuments cause inscriptions to become illegible. They also make an otherwise beautifully carved stone unsightly.

Memorials are the property and responsibility of the lot holders as they are the owners of the memorials. The Cemetery is unable to use perpetual care funds to clean, repair or re-set monuments.

If you notice an issue with your monument, please do not attempt to push or move it on your own! Monuments generally weigh 180-220 lbs PER CUBIC FOOT! Recently, after a winter frost had adjusted a family’s monument setting a few inches, the family tried to adjust the monument on their own. This resulted in the collapse of the monument and injury. Please contact us so that we can assist or advise you on how to safely accomplish the task.

For information on how you can donate or for advice on how to clean or restore your monument; please call Kelly Grimaldi at 518-350-7679 or email [email protected].

4 Responses to St. Mary’s Veteran Restoration Project – Adopt a Soldier

  1. Avatar Joanne Halpin-Morelli says:

    Hi, thank you for taking on this project, I would love to help. Are you signing up volunteers to do some of the physical work?
    Also, I went through the list and my great uncle is not on it. He is in Section 8, near Michael Burke, the civil war medal of honor recipient. My g-uncles name is William Clifford and he died in 1965. He does have one of the flat markers, not the older white one, it’s not in bad shape since I do try and go a few times a year and clean the grass off.
    Again thank you for doing this and I am more than willing and able to physically help, I’ll also make a donation to adopt one of the older ones.

    • Avatar Jennifer Mele says:

      Hello Ms. Halpin-Morelli,
      Thank you for your interest in the project, and for your care of your great uncle’s marker.
      Due to a glitch in our system we are just reading your comment. We will be in touch ASAP.

      Thank you.

  2. Avatar Jim Alston says:

    Actually I’ve been trying to locate a Civil Wa soldier who was previously interred at the defunct Gibbonsville Cemetary on Watervliet Arsenal.

    William H. ALSTON , Company I 7th N.Y. Vol N. Art. Died July 18 1885.

    It appears his daughter Julia Ann was moved to Albany Rural but I can find no record of William after Gobbonsville.

    Any information is welcome. Thanks in advance.

    • Avatar Jennifer Mele says:

      Hello Mr. Alston,
      Due to a glitch in our system we are just reading your comment now. We will contact you about your question ASAP.

      Thank you

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