For more than 200 volunteers from Mansfield and nearby communities, the morning of Saturday, Sept. 11, 2021 was one of community, togetherness and reconciliation.
That morning, two layers of historical significance collided: the volunteers gathered at a local cemetery with a difficult past on the 20th anniversary of the deadliest terrorist attacks to ever occur on American soil.
Mansfield Mayor Michael Evans said that, in the days following the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, he saw a hurting nation that was unified by its shared pain. Twenty years later, Mayor Evans was among the volunteers who were unified in their mission to clean up the “white” portion of the Mansfield Cemetery and move forward from its troublesome history.
“Mansfield is writing a new narrative,” Mayor Evans said after the cleanup.
A longtime Mansfield resident recently requested help beautifying what has historically been the “white” portion of the cemetery, which is located just south of McClendon Park East. Despite the cemetery’s history, a diverse group of volunteers came together to answer the request, spending roughly two and a half hours trimming overgrown trees and placing new mulch on the grounds. City Council Member Tamera Bounds also joined the cleanup efforts.
Evans told the volunteers after the cleanup that he was lost for words.
“Over time, we see fences,” Mayor Evans said to the volunteers. “And when we have the courage to not only look back, but look forward, and say ‘No more fences,’ we learn great lessons.”
Mayor Evans also praised the many children who participated in the cleanup.
“These are batons that they will have in their hands, and our prayer together is that they will carry them forward,” Mayor Evans said.
Saturday’s cleanup will count toward the 2021 Fall Sweep, a City of Mansfield event in which volunteers may pick up litter at locations throughout Mansfield from Sept. 1 to Oct. 31. Groups that conduct cleanups as part of the 2021 Fall Sweep are encouraged to submit this form to provide details about their efforts.