HAZLET, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — A forgotten veterans cemetery in Monmouth County has been discovered and honored by an Eagle Scout project, with the help of a Navy SEAL.
As CBS2’s Meg Baker reported Thursday, up on a rise between houses in a Hazlet neighborhood is an historic site — the Aumack Cemetery.READ MORE: Karlsson Scores In OT To Give Sharks Win Over Islanders
“There’s two War of 1812 veterans, a Civil War veteran who actually passed at the Battle of Antietam, and then there’s also a Revolutionary War militiaman,” said Eagle Scout James Borg.
James said he was given a charge by the local VFW to place American flags on veterans’ graves. Their documentation gave an address on Virginia Avenue, but when he arrived with his dad, he was confused. It was just an ordinary street.
They explored a bit further and went up a hill, through the bramble, to discover desecrated gravestones.
He knew he had to do more than just place flags.
“It’s small-town American history. And in a time like now, we all need to feel together as Americans. We need to feel like we’re all in this together,” James said.
He enlisted the help of Hazlet town committeeman Skip McKay.
“I’m a former Navy SEAL. We have a motto in life: We don’t leave people behind,” McKay said.READ MORE: New York Weather: CBS2’s 12/3 Friday Morning Forecast
McKay has lived in Hazlet since 1959. He said he was stunned by the location and sad to see the disrepair — many of the graves barely readable, headstones broken.
“We have a veteran that died … an 18-year-old man dies from wounds in battle in the Civil War. I just found it unacceptable for him to be under poison ivy for another day,” McKay said.
The graveyard goes 100 yards further into the brush.
The Aumack relatives still live locally. Harry, 82, and his son, John, visited the site recently. Records show they still own the land, even though the block was purchased by a developer in the 1950s.
Borg, a history buff, plans to stay involved and help the family restore and honor the graves of those that fought for our freedom.
Monmouth County open space funds are also being used to make the area accessible to the public, and put up trees to block the view from neighbor’s back yards. The project will take time to carefully clear away brush.
There’s no record of how many graves exist there.
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