Volunteers clean and refurbish monuments to honor veterans for Memorial Day

The project was started almost by accident when a woman visited a veterans memorial in Utah.
Posted at 8:50 AM, May 27, 2024

A volunteer effort in Nephi, Utah, ensures that community monuments are cleaned and honored for Memorial Day. On a recent spring morning before the holiday, a small group gave up a part of their Saturday to give back to those who gave all.

“These are our heroes and we gotta make sure they are shown proudly," said volunteer Jeremy Hernandez. "That they’re not forgotten.”

The volunteers brought sponges, paint, scrubbers and more to clean up and refurbish the memorial of those who served our country.

“Hopefully, the community will take pride in it and I hope the veterans who have served in the past will get the respect that they deserve," said Terina Mickey, who coordinated the project.

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Mickey started the project almost accidentally after visiting the veterans memorial last year with her boyfriend.

“He had shown me out here that both his dad and his grandpa were on the memorial," she reflected. "And he showed me and he was kind of sad that there was no paint in their names; it’s just kind of hard water everywhere. And so I told him I knew how to paint the names back on.”

As she started doing that, Mickey thought it’d be nice to do every name on all of the monuments and benches. She first got approval from the local Lions Club, which oversees the monuments, and then enlisted some friends to help.

But as the cleanup gained momentum, her boyfriend’s health deteriorated.

Mickey said he’d been a longtime drug user, and even though he was in recovery, his body gave out, and he died last fall. While dealing with his passing and working on this project, Mickey started a nonprofit called One Day at a Time Services. The nonprofit gives residents dealing with addiction and the court system another resource in their recovery.

Crysti Vincent, a recent graduate of recovery court, said the additional help was instrumental.

“I had some mental health issues that needed to be taken care of and addressed," she said. "I am just so much better now, so much better off after getting involved with her organization and graduating from recovery court."

As an Air Force veteran, Mickey said this has turned into the most worthwhile mission of her life.

“We’ve been able to do the more than 2,700 names on this memorial," she said at the end of the volunteer day.

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Mickey currently works as a long-haul truck driver and typically spends more than 100 hours a week on the road, so she’s been doing this in her spare time.

But thanks to the help of volunteers who donated their time and many of the cleaning materials needed to finish the job, monuments are sparkling, and Mickey is inspired to continue her mission.

This article was originally published by Scott McKane for Scripps News Salt Lake City.