HAMILTON, N.J. -Mercer County Executive Brian M. Hughes today observed Operation White Stone, the County's annual effort to maintain the headstones at the graves of County veterans buried in the Field of Honor section of Greenwood Cemetery.
Hughes spoke briefly as some 1,400 headstones were cleaned of dirt and debris using water from high-pressure powerwashers in order to return them to their original, dignified white appearance.
"This service is one that is simple but very important," said Hughes. "It's something that we provide at no cost to taxpayers but that illustrates that the respect we have for our veterans continues after death. We have made a promise to keep this Field of Honor section meticulously groomed out of respect, and we will keep that promise."
The program is conducted by utilizing the low-risk inmates of Mercer County Correction Center's S.L.A.P. (Superintendent Labor Assistance Program) and with the assistance of the Enterprise Fire Company of Hamilton. The S.L.A.P. workers powerwash the headstones with high-pressure water sprayers with water supplied by the 750-gallon tank onboard an Enterprise fire engine.
Ed Mazzeo, Director of the Mercer County Office of Veteran Services, said approximately 1,400 limestone headstones will be cleaned over the course of two days. Operation White Stone is held every other year at Greenwood Cemetery.
"It's a nice way to continue to honor these brave Americans served admirably or who died serving their country," Mazzeo said.
One year ago, Hughes responded to the County's need to expand its capacity for veteran burials by purchasing, with the support of the Mercer County Freeholder Board, an additional 680 burial plots for veterans at Greenwood Cemetery.