For decades, Camden’s first African American cemetery was concealed — it’s gravestones covered.
More than 100 soldiers who served in the Civil War were buried there.
Friday, their service was honored.
CBS 3 Eyewitness News Reporter Steve Patterson explains how the rediscovery was made.
Like so many things in Camden, beauty had to be rediscovered.
“It’s amazing. I just give the honor and the glory to God,” said Jerome Martin.
Friday Jerome Martin blinked back tears as he stood in front of his great uncle’s grave for the first time.
“I can’t wait to let the family know that I found his tombstone here in this park in Camden,” said Martin.
Martin’s response is the culmination of years of restoration.
Before Johnson Cemetery Memorial Park was an honored hallowed ground for fallen African American troops, it was just Johnson Park.
The graves of men who gave their lives for freedom were buried for decades and covered in trash — forgotten.
“Things that have been neglected for years and years and years now are beginning to come forth and blossom,” said Korean War Veteran Delbert Nelson.
Friday a dedication ceremony for the fallen and a re-dedication for the care in which they’re honored.
Korean War Veteran Delbert Nelson says it’s emblematic of a new focus on his city.
“This is long time overdue for this cemetery and the growth of the city of Camden. This depicts just what’s happening in the city of Camden,” said Nelson.
Here the graves of more than 120 war veterans and prominent African Americans buried in Camden rediscovered by grade-schoolers.
SOURCE: Steve Patterson