ALTOONA Pa. (WTAJ) — Over one thousand servicemen and women are buried at Rose Hill Cemetery and they now have a more peaceful place to rest thanks to a former army captain.
Edward Mackey served in the Vietnam war. He and his brother grew up living in Altoona and his parents were buried there. After moving back home, Mackey decided his service didn’t end with the military. He says “I drove into the cemetery and I said gee I don’t like the looks of this cemetery, the grass was high, a lot of trees were falling over. It just was in bad shape and i said I’m going to find out why its in such bad shape.”
He found that the two people running the cemetery were older and disabled. So Mackey volunteered to make some changes. Years later Mackey came to renovate the whole cemetery, which will be completely finished next week.
Mackey says “it’s just been one good deed after another that has helped us to improve the cemetery over the last five years, it’s just been a very very satisfying good feeling. We have so many gracious and generous people in Altoona who are willing to help us on our way.”
Army service runs in his family but this year they weren’t able to gather as usual because of the coronavirus. But Mackey wanted to top off five years of renovation and what better day to do it than Memorial Day.
He says “I knew that across the country the government had people play taps at three o clock, I said gee I know probably one of the best trumpet players in the country…He’s my brother.”
His brother — =William played Taps as a soloist at Horseshoe Curve when the K4 Locomotive was installed in 1957. He was a senior at Altoona High School at the time. He traveled back from Alexander Virginia to play it this Memorial Day.
The flags will be at Rose Hill for the next few weeks.
Volunteers invite the community to take a stroll and continue to remember even when Memorial Day is over.