Cemetery workers offer solace - FOX 13 News

Cemetery workers offer solace

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BUSHNELL (FOX 13) -

They're going beyond their jobs to make sure veterans and their loved ones are honored.  What one group of workers is doing to help their fellow servicemen during the toughest of times is What's Right with Tampa Bay.

Almost every day, veteran Richard Sanchez drives to see his wife.

"I wish everybody could have what we had," explained the 76-year-old man.

His marriage to Sandra was special, one that spanned more than three decades until the day she passed away.

"I told her the same thing three times too, ‘I love you very much,' I said, ‘I'll never, never leave you.'  I'm not gonna leave her," he said, with a tear in his eye.

Richie kept that promise.  He comes to visit his wife at the Florida National Cemetery in Bushnell so often that the workers here have become like family.

"They all know me.  That's right.  I got neighbors that don't know me," he said.

Richie served in Korea and while his wife wasn't in the military, veterans are allowed to have burial spots next to them.  Until he joins his wife, Richie depends on the comfort he gets while visiting the serene yet solemn cemetery.

Ed Brown, a maintenance foreman at the cemetery, tells Richie, "Nobody says not showing up here every day like you do, whatever, but you know at night, go to dinner with your friends and stuff."

He listens, but more importantly, they listen.

"It's hard man, it's hard."

Grounds Foreman Bernard Castle, said, "Sometimes he's sad, but he talks to the guys and they cheer him and he leaves here feeling better, every day I think." 

"I can't wait to come out here to see you guys,"  Richie tells the men.

In mourning the death of his wife, Richie has found new life in the folks who have made it their job to help him heal.

"You know what that does to a person that's in my state of mind?" Richie asked. "They feel honored to be coming out here doing what they're doing and it means, it means a lot to me."

He still struggles with his overwhelming sense of loss.

"I'm waiting my turn, I'm waiting my turn and I just live every day until it's my turn."

However, until then, he has peace in knowing that a soldier's promise to leave no man behind, goes far beyond the battlefield.

"These workers out here, they take it to heart, and that's what it's all about."

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