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'It heals the soul' | Veteran volunteers clean up military cemeteries in remembrance of 9/11

Volunteers are do cleaning and landscape work as part of a nationwide effort.

SAN ANTONIO — Saturday marks 20 years since the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center. The nation will honor the milestone with ceremonies to remember the 2,977 lives lost. 

Around the nation, volunteers with "Carry the Load" are remembering 9/11 by cleaning and beautifying military cemeteries.

“It’s easy for me to talk to people no matter what,” Russell Livingston said among his fellow volunteers Friday at Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery. 

Livingston is full of stories. Among the people who came to volunteer Friday for Carry the Load, he found the perfect audience.

“We have been to some of the same places, done some of the same things, and that kind of camaraderie develops almost instantly,” Russell said. “It feels like you know them already.”

He came at the invitation of his son, Austin. Both are military veterans.

“Ever since I was in the military, and recently exited the military, my dad and I have been closer because of these common experiences,” Austin said. “And coming here to do something like this really brings that out.”

The two of them were taking part in a nationwide effort by Carry the Load.

“It’s veterans and their families from all military services that came out today to participate.” said Carry the Load San Antonio Ambassador Elias Carlon.

Roughly 2,000 volunteers went to work Friday beautifying gravestones and tending to the grounds At 65 military cemeteries across the country ahead of 9/11.

“It’s something that I hope somebody will do for me someday,” Russell said. “I hope to be buried out here myself.

There are lot of stories here that will never be told, but Carlon himself, an Afghanistan Veteran, said coming together and sharing stories with each other can be therapeutic during challenging times.

“This gives us a chance to come together because a lot of times we are with our friends or our families and they don’t understand. And today, even with events that have happened, we realize that we did something,” he said.  “We were there for a purpose. An event like today shows us and it gives us a remembrance of why we did what we did. It’s really good for us, it heals the soul.”

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