Gravesites Stripped of Flowers and Decorations, Families Left Upset

By Stephanie Parkinson

Gravesites Stripped of Flowers and Decorations, Families Left Upset

June 14, 2013 Updated Jun 14, 2013 at 5:43 PM EDT

HARTFORD CITY, Ind. (www.incnow.tv) - Several people in Hartford City are upset after the gravesites of their loved ones were stripped of flowers and other decorations being used to honor their family members.

"It broke my heart,” said Shirley Towry.

Angels and crosses were left broken in piles. Fresh flowers were also dumped in piles at The Hartford City Cemetery in Blackford County.

It happened only days after Memorial Day. This was when the gravesites of several veterans were heavily decorated.

"Everything was removed and put in trash bags,” said Towry.

The president of the board for the cemetery says this was never approved by the board. He says as soon as he found out he told the maintenance crew to immediately stop removing any items from gravesites.

"Who knows if that wasn't the last toy that their child played with, or the last thing that your loved one bought you, or the last thing you had bought for your loved one. And you sat it there to memorialize them. To come and find it just smashed, I just don't understand it,” said Towry.

For one woman, who recently buried her father at the cemetery, she's been unable to afford a head stone so the small mementos she left at his grave were very important to her because it's all she's been able to mark her father's gravesite with.

"To find that the two little things I could get him were gone, I cried,” said Elisha Smith.

In the town's Friday paper the cemetery board issued an apology. But for those with loved ones buried at the cemetery it still isn't enough.

"I think if they really wanted to apologize they could have had a meeting, you know, an impromptu meeting,” said Smith.

Towry feels the younger generations tend to grieve differently, and many find peace in using things to memorialize their loved ones.

"It's just something to honor that person, to remember them,” said Towry.

Since this happened Towry is rallying people together to sign a petition. It might only be a symbolic gesture, but she hopes it will lead to more open communication and make the board's rules more easily accessible to the public.

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