GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - One Gulfport cemetery is in better shape thanks to a new club on the coast. The efforts of the Spanish Society at USM brought Hispanic culture to light through service.
The Spanish Society started in the spring and already has a steady member base made up of Southern Miss students. The president of the society, Dylan Tyner, wanted to make sure something was done in the community to celebrate an important Spanish holiday.
"On Dia De Los Muertos it is a day of celebrating the lives of those passed loved ones," said Tyner.
You may know it as the Day of the Dead. Even though the actual holiday is in the beginning of November, these students wanted to get a head start.
The society cleaned up the trash, and even did a little landscaping at the Mississippi City Cemetery in Gulfport, including planting some flowers donated by Beatline Nursery.
"Orange marigolds are actually tied in with the day of the dead itself," said Tyner.
According to Tyner, this cleanup effort is a way of giving back to the community and raising awareness about a holiday not typically celebrated outside of Hispanic tradition. "We want to make people more aware of Hispanic culture and also create a dialogue," said Tyner.
Mallory Lyon heard about the cleanup effort in one of her classes at USM. "It definitely made my ears perk up so I had to come out," she said.
Getting a cemetery in shape has been on her to-do list recently. "I think our dead demand respect and so does our city history," said Lyon.
For Jennifer Balcazar, it's about honor. Having a military background, recognizing the fallen is something she's used to.
"So, coming to the cemetery to me is something normal. It's something passionate and it's something you look up to someone although they're not here," said Balcazar.
And a lesson could be taken away from this group and its respect for those passed on and a Spanish tradition.
Tyner said the Spanish Society isn't just for USM students. He said everyone is invited to join.