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

Posted on October 23, 2020 by Jennifer Mele under Preservation, St. Mary's Cemetery Troy, Stories of our Dearly Departed, Troy, Uncategorized, Veterans and Military, Volunteer

We make a promise as a nation never to forget our veterans. In 2020, we launched a Veteran Restoration Project 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 2020 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 older gravestones deteriorate over time because of the elements. In 2020, thanks to generous project donors and volunteers, we were able to clean, restore and re-set over 40 veteran gravestones – making them legible again!

Take a look at our Adopt A Soldier list.

Adopt A Soldier list example photo

Interested in sponsoring restoration of a monument or marker in any of our cemeteries? Contact Kelly Grimaldi, Historian for Albany Diocesan Cemeteries at (518) 350-7679 or [email protected]

Due to the pandemic, we were unable to offer our popular volunteer workshops in 2020, 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 was 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, 2020 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.

We offer a big THANK YOU to all the volunteers and donors who made this project such a success. 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].

8 thoughts on “St. Mary’s Veteran Restoration Project – Adopt a Soldier

  1. 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.

    1. 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. 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.

    1. 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

  3. Jim Alston says:

    Historian at ARC located William H. Alston

    Sec100 grave 350.


    Does your project restore stones at ARC?


    1. Jennifer Mele says:

      Hello Mr. Alston,

      Albany Rural Cemetery is not one of our cemeteries, therefore we are unable to do restoration work in that cemetery. I would recommend contacting ARC. I’m sure they would be happy to provide you with restoration information.

      Wishing you blessings,

  4. Mark T Bodnar says:

    The request for information on the burial of William H. Alston was answered today. Pvt. Alston is interred in the Old Arsenal Burial Ground in Section 100, Grave #5 on the north ridge.

    Mark Bodnar, Trustee, Albany Rural Cemetery

    1. Jennifer Mele says:

      Thanks Mark!

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