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Veteran plants flags in Miami City Cemetery with fallen veterans, aims to restore headstones

Veteran looks to preserve headstones at Miami cemetery
Veteran looks to preserve headstones at Miami cemetery 03:10

MIAMI — Alex Kruger-Dobrota has come to plant flags at the Miami City Cemetery for the last 11 years on Memorial Day weekend

"I don't see any other reason to celebrate besides honoring those who gave everything to sacrifice," Alex said.

Each is a symbol of those who gave months, years, or their life for their country. He came across the headstone of a veteran who served in World War I, World War II, and the Korean War.

"If you've been through all of that, which is I think the worst of the wars then this is a man who gave it all," Alex said.

He used to plant the flags with his friend Dalton, who he served with in the U.S. Marines. Dalton passed away two years ago from an overdose. Alex says he was having trouble living a less rigid life than that in the military. 

"If you don't have that anymore, you find alternatives to fill that void," Dalton said. "And a lot of people in the Military turn to whatever reason to fill that void whether it's adrenaline sports or drugs." 

The site reminds him of a seven-month tour in Afghanistan. Alex was a sniper and remembers how IEDs were hidden all over the town he was in. 

"Two of my good friends from my old unit, unfortunately, were killed in action," Alex said. "Two buddies had both their legs amputated. The sergeant had his hand taken away. And I think about that almost every day." 

There are veterans buried here that date all the way back to the Spanish-American war. The Local VFW in Miami Beach is starting a campaign where they restore some of these headstones, to keep the memory of these veterans alive.

Miami Beach's VFW Commander Larry Leitner says it could take years to restore the headstones at the cemetery. He says Many are overdue, 

"Some other cases, the headstones are falling below the ground," Leitner said. "And they're almost completely covered." 

Alex came across one headstone that was buried under so much dirt that you could barely see it. 

"It's kind of hidden," Alex said. "His life isn't really being honored in this way."

Alex says repairing these stones is the least he can do. A survivor of war, honoring those who didn't make it back. 

"You learn the value of life," Alex said. "The people that gave it all. They did that so that we can enjoy our life." 

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