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To the editor:
My sister and I toured the Kellerton Cemetery on July 1 to pay our respect to family and friends. This is not unusual since we live nearby. We decorate our family’s graves a couple times a year. Our routine is to prepare the flower arrangements ahead of time. Each display is made specifically for that individual (their favorite color, flower, etc.), and the flowers are secured in plastic tubes that have insulation foam. This prevents the flowers from coming loose and blowing away. Additionally we wire each arrangement in the urn that is permanently attached to the stone. We fully intend for these arrangements to stay on the grave, in the urn, until we remove it. Imagine our disbelief when we found all but one of the flower arrangements were gone. On that particular grave, weed-eating had not been done, so our assumption was “No Weed-eating, No Removal of Flowers”. This proved to be a correct theory. Another brother’s site did not have an urn attached to the stone, but a garden flag, light and pin-wheel were still on his grave. The American flag placed for his military service was missing.
Two other close friend’s stones that had urns permanently secured were barren. NO FLOWERS! We began seeing a pattern. Somewhere there was a preconceived decision to strip perfectly good flower displays from the cemetery. This entire ordeal was just prior to the Fourth of July holiday, a day when many families and friends visit their loved one that have passed.
These arrangements are not inexpensive. My concern turned to anger. The fact that someone would think that they had the right to remove anything, permanently attached to a monument, seemed to me to be premeditated theft.
When we were driving out of town, I happened upon a red truck filled to the brim with a load of cemetery flowers. The truck was parked in the driveway of the person that mows the Kellerton Cemetery. Let me say that these flowers were fully visible from the road so I stopped at the house to talk with this person. No one answered the door. After knocking numerous times, I gave up on the desired conversation and took pictures (from the road), to document the issue. I do have date stamped pictures of vehicle loaded with flower arrangements and the Ringgold County license plate. I also have photos that show the grave stones without any flowers, and in our family’s case, the lack of flowers AND the cut wire that should have held them attached to the stone.
I realize that serving on the cemetery board is a thankless job, but if this type of action cannot force a solution to this despicable act, then perhaps whoever supplies the finances for mowing the cemetery should be involved. I speak, not only for myself, but for those people living some distance away that have family and friends interred at the Kellerton Cemetery.
It is the opinion of this concerned writer, that this person’s employment should be terminated. Not only are we talking about this theft, but our cemetery appears unkempt. I fully understand that flowers just stuck in the ground by the stone should be removed for the ease of mowing and weed-eating, but those floral displays WIRED to the urn (that is permanently attached to the monument), should be off-limits. Our Kellerton Cemetery is not mowed on a regular basis, thus mounds of dried grass is blown all over the stones-never to be removed. Weed-eating is randomly done. It is now eleven days after this started (July 1), and the far-east section of the cemetery where my parents and grand-parents are buried, still has not been weed-eaten. When we drive by some of the other cemeteries in the county that are mowed, and are adorned with floral tributes, I feel very sad that our loved ones seem to have been forgotten.
I have written a letter to the cemetery board/trustees, Ringgold Board of Supervisors and the Sheriff’s office. In my letter dated 07/01/2019, I requested a copy of the Kellerton Cemetery By-Laws. I also “strongly urged” the Board of Trustees to schedule a meeting. I have explained this problem at length in the letter to those mentioned above and in this editorial. I may be the one that has written this editorial, but there are others that will back this commentary. We must urge a change to the present maintenance protocol. We may have buried our loved ones in Kellerton Cemetery, but they deserve respect for their “Eternal Earthly Plot of Ground”.
Janet Holmes and Kathryn Still