AmeriCorps NCCC team Earth 7 continues its service in Miami with a refresh of the south side wrought iron fencing at the G.A.R. Cemetery.

MIAMI– To know and honor the past is to guide and protect the future.

As the seat of Ottawa County, Miami is home to several historic sites that depend on community volunteers as a part of their preservation. Among them is the Grand Army of the Republic (G.A.R.) Cemetery, which recently had the wrought iron fencing along its south side refreshed by AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC) team Earth 7.

Owned and operated by the City of Miami, the G.A.R. Cemetery is located at 2801 North Main in Miami and spans 86 acres, with over 20,000 burial plots surrounded by wrought iron fencing that serves to both beautify and protectively border the site.

AmeriCorps NCCC is a full-time, team-based residential service program for individuals ages 18-24 from across the country. Known as Earth 7, the 10-member NCCC team working in Miami arrived in early April as part of a 12-week service grant.

A majority of the team's time will be spent on projects for the Ottawa County Boys & Girls Club but will also include work for the OSU Extension office, faith-based nonprofit The Harbor, and various arms of the City of Miami.

"Earth 7 has worked with the Boys & Girls Club in Fairland, Commerce and Miami," said Ashley Thompson, media representative for the team. "The staff has been amazing, and the kids are so energetic! Earth 7 has started making bonds with children and have promoted physical activity during the after school program."

The team spent a little over a week working on the fencing at the G.A.R. Cemetery, filing and scraping back chipping layers of paint and applying a fresh coat of deep green to refresh the look of the wrought iron.

"There's like four to five layers of paint on these fences," said Thompson. "It's cool to think about the first layer, which was white or red and how it was here from the beginning.

"We were given the background of the cemetery, and there is just so much history here. There is also the event for Memorial Day weekend that we are hoping to show up for."

In addition to their work at the G.A.R. Cemetery, the team will also provide upkeep and beautification services for the historical airport hangar used to train pilots for the British Royal Air Force from 1941 to 1945 for the Spartan School of Aeronautics. During WWII, 15 British flyers with the Royal Air Force died at the Spartan School training for duty and are interred at the G.A.R. Cemetery.

An annual Memorial Day Ceremony is held at the cemetery that honors the flyers and all service persons who made the ultimate sacrifice in service to their nation.

This year the Memorial Day Ceremony will be held on Monday, May 29 at 9 a.m. at the historical G.A.R. Monument located at the south end of the cemetery. The City of Miami cordially invites all to attend.

The Brown-Winters Funeral Home will be serving refreshments in the gazebo immediately following.

For more information about the ceremony, contact the City of Miami G.A.R. Cemetery at 918-541-2288 or visit www.miamiokla.net.

The AmeriCorps NCCC team is always looking for additional service opportunities in the Miami area on weekends with 501c3 organizations until July 7, 2017. Email ashley.earth7@gmail.com with your organization's information to submit a request and learn more.