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Eagle Project Restores Honor to Veterans

As America pauses to commemorate its independence, Eliot Jablonski, Life Scout and Assistant Senior Patroller of Unit 305, will honor those who gave their lives for our freedom. Jablonski’s Eagle Project is an arduous effort to restore 777 gravestones of Veterans within the Soldiers’ Circle at Arlington Cemetery in Kearny. The kickoff will be held fittingly on the eve of Independence Day to highlight the importance of the service of those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country.

Since its construction in the 1880s, more than 500 American Civil War Veterans and a Congressional Medal of Honor recipient have been buried in Arlington Cemetery along Schuyler Avenue in Kearny. These Veterans and others serving in other wars and conflicts are buried within the special section known as the Soldiers’ Circle. Over the years, their headstones have fallen into major disrepair and need to be restored to their former glory.

Jablonski is coordinating the restoration with his fellow Scouts and leaders from Unit 305 along with members of the Hudson County Genealogical and Historical Society. Jablonski consulted with Kearny Fire Department Chief Steven Dyl, Deputy Chief Joseph Mastandrea, and Captain Michael Janeczko to borrow a 250-gallon water tote. New firefighter recruits assisted with the setup of this water source at the cemetery. The restoration project will use at least 777 gallons of water. Deep cleaning the gravestones, especially the older ones, requires care and a special process. Volunteers will be instructed how to apply water-soluble D/2 Biological Solution that organically breaks down the mold, lichen, and environmental weathering on the gravestones. Once the stones are wet, the application of D/2 takes about 15 minutes to begin to work. Using a gallon of water, the product is then scrubbed off the stones in approximately another 15 minutes. After a half an hour, the formerly undecipherable stones reveal the name and rank of the soldier, sailor, or airman buried among the concentric circles.

It is important to identify each Veteran burial plot so that the gravestones of those that are beyond repair may be replaced by the United States Government through a petition filed by the Brigadier General William C. Doyle Veterans Memorial Cemetery which owns the Soldiers’ Circle. Jablonski’s Eagle Project to restore the gravestones will enable the Society to continue their genealogical research and historical preservation.

Mayor Alberto Santos and all the members of the Town Council fully support Jablonski’s Eagle Project, noting that this is “an excellent project to undertake. It’s a very powerful location with so much history,” stated Mayor Santos. The scope and significance of restoring the Veterans gravestones was acknowledged by Councilwoman Carol Jean Doyle as a “huge undertaking with so much work needed to restore these gravestones.” Councilman Peter Santana shed light on the significance as the Veterans Circle is “full of history and sentiment, as many families and veterans visit for remembering their loved ones or fellow soldiers.” Councilwoman Eileen Eckel praised Jablonski’s efforts “to preserve and honor them for future generations.”

After the July 3rd kickoff, the cleaning schedule will be every Saturday and Sunday throughout the month of July. If you are interested in learning more about Jablonski’s Eagle Project or would like to volunteer, then please email CircleRestoration@gmail.com.