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Group Works To Preserve Grand Prairie Cemetery

By Selena Hernandez, CBS 11 News
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GRAND PRAIRIE (CBS 11 NEWS) – It’s one of the oldest cemeteries in North Texas and some in folks in Grand Prairie think it’s one of the most neglected.

The American Memorial Park Cemetery is nestled in a residential area in Grand Prairie’s east side.

Some of the headstones there date back to the late 1700′s, but what was supposed to be a historical landmark is instead a land marked with litter and unkept graves.

Buried alongside trash, overgrown weeds and mounds of dirt is a part of Grand Prairie’s past.

Dedicated in 1795, the American Memorial Park Cemetery sits on just over three acres. It’s supposed to be a final resting place, but as of late, it’s become a place of unrest.

“My momma can’t rest here because it’s filthy,” Denise Gambrell said.

Gambrell is among others in the community pushing to preserve this piece of history – a burial home to African American civil leaders, veterans and a legacy for future generations.

“People walk their dogs [here]. This is not a dog park. This is where our people are resting,” Gambrell said frustrated. “You gotta come out here to pull up grass before you can lay flowers. Something is wrong.”

Gerald Weatherall owns the cemetery and told CBS 11 News he does what he can, but said he operates on a limited budget.

“I’ve heard some of their concerns. I’ve received calls and we’re working on it,” Weatherall said.

Meanwhile, Gambrell, along with other concerned citizens, have joined efforts with the Grand Prairie NAACP. Their hope is to generate enough interest in the landmark to protect an important piece of the past.

“This is history. It’s not just my history — it’s American history,” said Gambrell. We need to do better. We owe them better.”

Cemetery owner Weatherall said he gets just $74 a month, from the state’s Perpetual Care Fund, to maintain the property.

Meanwhile, concerned Grand Prairie citizens are now working to get the cemetery designated as a historical site.

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