For the second time in about a year, Beaufort National Cemetery is getting a makeover.
Crews from Southern Tree Services of Beaufort began trimming trees Monday at the Civil War-era burial ground as part of a $78,500 pruning project approved by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, said Donald Owen, the cemetery's director.
For two weeks, the company will prune more than 300 trees in the 30-acre historical section of the cemetery that borders Boundary Street, officials said.
It is the first time the cemetery's trees have been trimmed in nearly a decade.
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Owen said the project is aimed not only at beautifying the grounds but improving safety for the thousands of visitors to the property each year.
"We really want to make sure that the cemetery is a safe place to visit and that we don't have branches or limbs falling down in the middle of the road or anything like that," he said. "Safety is our main priority with this project, but there will also be a positive visual effect on the cemetery as a result of the work being done."
The project is the second such sprucing up in about a year at the national cemetery, which was created by President Abraham Lincoln in 1863 and remains one of only three in South Carolina.
Work began last year to rehabilitate the historic brick wall, built in about 1876, around the original section of the cemetery.
That $851,000 project, awarded to Tradesmen Group Inc., a veteran-owned small business in Dublin, Ohio., included rebuilding damaged wall sections and repairing mortar joints and the foundation.
Owen said crews finished repairing the wall in March.
The cemetery contains the graves of more than 19,000 service members and their spouses from every major American conflict, including Medal of Honor recipient Ralph Johnson, Col. Donald Conroy, father of novelist Pat Conroy, and 19 Union soldiers from the all-black 54th Massachusetts Regiment, whose remains were discovered in 1987 by souvenir hunters using metal detectors near Charleston.