RENO, NV - The valley's oldest surviving cemeteries sit clustered on a hill. Once located on the town's outskirts, they now sit amidst the university neighborhood overlooking the downtown.
In Hillside Cemetery, established around 1870, scattered among the sage, rabbit brush and weeds are the graves of pioneers who built our city.
People with last names like Plumb and Mayberry, still part of the landscape. You'll also find a congressman and a Paiute chieftain and, here and there, a veteran.
A lot of local history here, but the setting also speaks of a history of neglect and vandalism.
Memorial Day, Fran Tryon volunteers here, cleaning the gravesites and researching the people buried there. The current state of Hillside, she agrees, is sad.
"You can only start from now and make the future better," she says. "So you can only clean this place and make it a place that Reno can be proud of and all it takes is pulling a weed or two."
Next door, the Grand Army of the Republic Cemetery once suffered the same fate. Established in 1890 as a resting place for Civil War veterans, the Daughters of Union Veterans began its restoration more than 50 years ago.
Today it's maintained by Boy Scout Troop One. The headstones only hint at untold personal stories from the nation's costliest war. One can now only wonder what battles these veterans from Iowa, New York and New Jersey saw and survived before moving west.
There are also Nevada volunteers buried there, and we're told perhaps four Confederates and one African American. Today, united under one flag, flying at half staff as the day began, then raised at midday.
What we now call Memorial Day grew out of spontaneous remembrances which sprang up after the peace that followed Appomatox, made official and nationwide three years later as Decoration Day. The day now honors all who died in the service of our country.
One hundred fifty years after their war ended, these veterans are not forgotten.