Vets' final resting place is unreachable, overgrown, says neighb - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina |

Vets' final resting place is unreachable, overgrown, says neighbor

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COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) -

We always want to remember our loved ones after they pass on, but in Batesburg-Leesville, one woman says entire generations have been forgotten, including soldiers from both World Wars because a community cemetery is overgrown and not being taken care of.

Things have changed a lot in Batesburg-Leesville since Corine Johnson and her husband settled here in 1950.

"You had to cook, eat, and sleep in the same room," said Johnson.

But what's changed the most here, Johnson said, isn't what's gone away, but instead what's grown up around what's already there.

"The younger generation don't even know," said Johnson. "Some of them don't know there's even a cemetery!"

You can't see it from the road and you can't even see it right up at the woods' edge. We had to walk back into the woods to see the cemetery, but could only reach a handful of graves.

"You wouldn't go out in the cemetery, you wouldn't go out there with all the snakes crawling," said Johnson.

It didn't always used to look this way. Johnson said the property was part of the Olive Branch Baptist Church, but she said the original church burned down years ago, moved down the road, and then the congregation split.

Many members of the congregation are buried in this cemetery, too, but it's privately maintained, so when the church forgot about the cemetery in the woods, these graves were not forgotten.

"We had a pastor at Olive Branch, that got a group of people to clean the cemetery up, but all those people that helped clean the cemetery, they have passed away; World War I veterans, World War II veterans," said Johnson.

That hits home for Johnson, whose family has sent three generations of young men into the service.

"My husband was a soldier in World War II, I had a son who was in the Vietnam War, I had a grandson who was in the Marines, and my other grandson was in the Navy," said Johnson. "I would love to see a monument out there. Get it cleaned off, put some dirt on it, get a monument out there."

Johnson said her daughter has made calls to try and get the cemetery cleaned up, but hasn't had any luck yet.

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