Fallen heroes' cemetery in Dona Ana gets face-lift thanks to generous people
DONA ANA COUNTY, N.M. —
A historic cemetery is getting some much-needed upgrades thanks to a generous family and woman.
Slumbering Mountain Cemetery is just off Highway 70 near the Organ Mountains.
The cemetery is filled with fallen war heroes from Dona Ana County that date back to the 1800s. It was built in 1885.
The resting place has been neglected. Overgrown weeds and debris have accumulated throughout the cemetery.
For years, gravestones were covered in brush.
One day, Joannie Taylor decided to do something about it and began cleaning the cemetery up.
Someone else also decided the cemetery needed to be cleaned up. His name is Robert Brooker.
Taylor and Brooker worked to give the fallen heroes an aesthetically pleasing resting place but the two never crossed paths until, one day, they both showed up to clean the cemetery.
Taylor was excited to see that someone else was interested in her cause.
Brooker said the conversation Taylor had with him was fated to take place.
“She said, 'Thank you very much. I appreciate it if you’d take care of it.' I said, 'We will, as long as I live.' She died two days later. It must have been meant to be somehow,” Brooker said.
Taylor died knowing someone else would continue giving back to those who gave so much for their country.
“There’s a lot of people out here that saved our lives so we could be free. They gave their life for that. To me, that means a lot,” Brooker said.
Brooker said there are three generations in his family who have dedicated their time to helping preserve Slumbering Mountain Cemetery.
"We enjoy doing what we're doing. We're asking nothing for it, you know? Just donating or time, because these people deserve it out here,” Brooker said.
His granddaughter, Lateara Brooker, placed a flower upon one of the graves saying,
"And I'm only 7 and I'm still helping.'”
Today, members of the VFW Post 6917 pledged to help maintain the Sumbering Mountain Cemetery and invited the public to do the same.
In honor of Memorial Day, there was a special ceremony at the cemetery in which members of the VFW placed American flags along with flowers on each war hero’s grave.
"It's about the veterans who have passed away and it's a time of solemn remembrance and a memorial to them,” Brian Ravak, senior vice commander of Post 6917 said.
The Brooker family and veterans from the VWF Post 6917 are looking for volunteers to help preserve the Slumbering Mountain Cemetery.
Right now, they’re looking for more manpower as well as tools and larger equipment to tear out the yucca and mesquite bushes.
If you’d like to help, you can contact Robert and Lanore Brooker at 253-753-8567 or Gale Brooker at 419-296-1009.