The new policy at the Virginia cemetery bans pictures and small tributes
The carefully-chosen mementos that cover graves in Section 60 of Arlington National Cemetery offer a deeply personal glimpse into the lives of grieving military families.
These reminders have now been scrubbed away following a new policy which has banned family and friends from placing tributes on the graves.
Headstones have been stripped of photos, drawings and poignant notes, in particular those in Section 60, home to the graves of more than 800 service members killed while doing their duty in Iraq and Afghanistan.
An Arlington spokesman said they were responding to complaints that the cemetery was looking too disorderly, and said the section needed to follow the same rules as the rest of the site.
Loved ones often left flowers, small stones and shells from favorite places and prized cigars. These have all now been swept away - some items saved to be returned to families, and some not.
Photographer Kevin Lamarque published images of the graves earlier this year on PhotoBlog.
In an article for Reuters, he commented this week: 'There were immensely sad graveside moments of girlfriends, wives, children, mothers and fathers sitting, kneeling, laying beside a grave, often touching, holding or kissing the headstone of their fallen loved one.
These loved ones would often leave behind mementos of all kinds, a way to keep their connection to those who departed too soon.'
Mr Lamarque added that there had been complaints from families but Arlington National Cemetery remained unbending in the set of new rules.
Jennifer Lynch, a spokesman for the cemetery, said: 'The policy is the same, but the enforcement is different.'
The rules were highlighted on the website in August but the first most families knew of the changes was when they visited the graves of relatives, according to the Washington Post.
New photographs show the graves lying bare, many with outlines of where pictures and letters were once taped to the marble surface.
In one moving instance, a loved one of a soldier who received the Purple Heart had pasted a small broken loveheart onto his grave.
This tribute has also been stripped away, leaving the shadow of a small heart on the stone.
More than 400,000 fallen members of the U.S. military lie across Arlington's 612 acres.
More pictures at link: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2451626/Arlington-graves-stripped-personal-momentoes-controversial-clean-up.html