Four Frederick Fence Co. employees got up early Friday to join their counterparts — members of the North American Fence Construction Association — in replacing old fences around Arlington National Cemetery.
This, their fourth year as part of the volunteer effort, was even more special for the Frederick team. They took with them a framed section of fence that had been removed during last year’s work. A 60-year-old cherry tree had grown through the old fence, and Frederick Fence Co. employee Andrew Dewese cut out the section and brought it back to Frederick. Co-workers Todd Powers and Mark Brengle helped him encase it in a wooden frame as a decorative display.
Mounted with the fence and tree piece is an American flag and rifle casings from a 21-gun salute at the cemetery. Two military medallions given to the workers by a cemetery official as a token of appreciation punctuate the finished product.
"It looks really, really cool," Dewese said. "We're really happy the way it turned out. It's the least we can do for these soldiers."
The project is truly one of a kind, Powers said.
"We spent a lot of time on the design and layout," he said. "I have family members buried at Arlington, so it's kind of personal to me. The armed forces do a lot for us."
The Frederick co-workers spent about 40 hours on the piece, doing a little each day over five days after work, said Dewese, who brought the piece of old fence to Frederick because he thought it was part of history.
By midday Friday, a television station was interviewing the volunteers about their work at the cemetery and the Frederick group about their framed relic.
"Everyone is very appreciative of our efforts," said Scott Ruete, Frederick Fence Co. residential sales manager and president of the North American Fence Contractors Association. "Everybody has been extremely impressed with what we're doing, and the (display) has been highly received."
Area residents are welcome to visit their office at 1505 Tilco Drive in Frederick to see the display, Brengle said.
Friday's event drew about 35 NAFCA contractors and vendors from across the country, including Georgia, Wisconsin, New York, Pennsylvania and Indiana, as well as Maryland.
Crews replaced about 350 feet of old chain-link with ornamental aluminum. NAFCA vendors donate the materials, and contractors donate their time to replace the aging fence.
"It's a big charity job we do every year for the cemetery," Ruete said. "Arlington has enough old fence that needs to be replaced to keep us busy over the next 10 years."
Visitors to the cemetery leave with renewed appreciation for the men and women in the armed forces, Ruete said.
"It is a pleasure and honor to come here and do this work," he said. "I'm a retired Coast Guard (veteran) and my son is in the Army, so this is personal for us."
The project is one of the many ways NAFCA encourages its members and nonmember fence professionals to work together, build camaraderie and give back to the community, Ruete said.