Author Topic: Arlington graves stripped of personal mementos in controversial clean-up that has outraged fallen service members' grieving families  (Read 727 times)

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Offline happyg

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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



Offline sinkspur

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None of these "mementos" are permitted in other sections of Arlington.  I see nothing wrong with this policy. 

One of the cemeteries near us doesn't allow anything but real or artificial flowers on the headstones, which are all horizontal to the ground. 
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Offline TheMom

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I don't have a problem with this policy either.   Arlington is a beautiful place that doesn't need to be mucked up with mementos.

In the cemetery where some of my relatives reside, folks put various items on grave sites and it just looks tacky.  I understand it helps the living with healing, but a grave site is not a bulletin board or scrapbook.
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Offline alicewonders

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There is a cemetary close to where I live and they must allow people more leeway in grave decorations.  I'm seeing more and more graves with benches, solar lites and other garden type decorations.  There is one that really cracked me up last year - on Halloween - it was decorated with little orange battery lites and bat decorations flittering all around it! 

But I could see where it might get out of hand in a place like Arlington where it is much more somber. 
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Offline sinkspur

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From  "A Shining City on a Hill"

To "A global laughingstock"

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I don't get people who visit graves.

It helps people feel reconnected to those they have lost.

Offline sinkspur

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It helps people feel reconnected to those they have lost.

I guess, but looking at a picture of my mother does the same thing.
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Liberal_Spy

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I guess, but looking at a picture of my mother does the same thing.

Everybody grieves in their own way.

Offline PzLdr

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I don't get people who visit graves.

A lot of it's cultural. I'm half Poprtuguese, half Italian [by descent]. With us, it's a major deal.I've been going to graves, with flowers, etc., since I was a little kid for my Grandparents. Now [I'm 67], even though I swore I'd never do it anymore,  I go to my folks' grave for Christmas, Easter, their birthdays, Memorial Day, Vererans' Day [Pop was a WWII vet], Mothers' Day, Fathers' Day. The custom goes back, near as I can figure to the Etruscans. Hell, I even visit the graves of two of my dogs at Christmas.
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Offline raml

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I have not been to my parents graves since my dad died and only saw my moms twice when she was placed in it and at dads burial. I have a lot of pictures and memories of great times and daily living with them and their graves are not what I call pleasant memories they are buried in California. I have never understood peoples need to go see where their loved ones are buried. I have a son who died a week after his birth I only saw his twice he is buried in Michigan. I have grandparents in Wisconsin and Illinois I have only seen their graves two or three times at most once again I have wonderful memories and graves don't give me any kind of peace or feeling that they are near. I guess it is cultural I am English, Irish, Scotish and German and none of my family members seem to be very fascinated with grave sites. I think that rules should be followed in the cemetery and momentos should be kept at home to look at.

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I dunno - I just find it a place of immense peace to just sit for a while. Don't go that often - once a month or so to make sure it is neat and tidy. Sometimes take flowers, more often times not. It's not that they are any closer there. They are not. But it is a place I can remember them without distractions.

I think that is probably the reasoning behind the Arlington decision. No distractions for those paying their respects.

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