October 25, 2021

Lack of Respect for Veterans' Gravesites


Year 2020 was a very difficult and different world to all of us. Even in 2021, most are still facing challenging times.

I lost five loved ones in 2020. The last family member to pass was my dad. A wonderful husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather. He was the sweetest person and so many people miss him. My prayers, amongst many others was to keep my mom and dad safe and healthy during the pandemic so they would not need to go the hospital unaccompanied by my husband and I. Unfortunately, my dad was the unfortunate one and got sick at the end of June. We were only able to talk with him on the phone. His doctors kept in touch and told us that he needed a stent put in one of his arteries in his heart. Two days passed and we were told my dad was in the icu. His kidneys were failing and they felt he would pass in three to four days. My husband called Hope Hospice and the entire wonderful team got him home.

Three days later, my dad passed. He had a beautiful funeral Mass at Sacred Heart Church in East Providence and was buried in Gate of Heaven cemetery with military honors.

I know catholic cemeteries have certain rules and guidelines that we need to abide to. I asked the head groundskeeper at Gate of Heaven as to what I could put near my dad’s military plaque. He said an urn and a USA flag.

I began making urn arrangements and putting them at his grave site one at a time. One urn went missing at the beginning so I made another one. My husband and I had to contact the VFW in different towns to get a medallion and a flag. Why isn’t the cemetery taking care of this?

A couple of weekends ago hurt me the most at Gate of Heaven. We had to experience holidays with my dad not being with my mom after 63 years of marriage. True Love. I always gave my dad red roses for his birthday, Father’s Day and Veterans Day. I painted an angel on a tin urn and wrote, “Safe in the arms of Jesus”. We love and miss you dad and added his name to it. Meanwhile, Gate of Heaven, as probably all Catholic cemeteries had posted that Christmas items had to be removed by a certain date. My husband and I complied and removed all Christmas items from his area well before the deadline. I then put the tin urn in with silk red roses and a red ribbon with stars on it. Nothing Christmas related at all. My husband and I went to his site on Saturday and the urn was gone and we noticed that the new flag WE put on his site was actually broken off out of the medallion. That was thrown away as well.

Who has the right to snap an American flag off of a veteran’s grave site and why did they even touch that flag? Who has the right to throw an urn away from a burial site? Whatever is put at a loved one’s site means something so very personal and special to that family. I made that urn for my dad as it was his first birthday not with us and he would have turned 90. Seeing his site broke my heart. I feel the crew at Gate of Heaven do not have any respect for the deceased people nor their families.

They should take the time to look at urns on the grounds to see if they are supposed to be removed at all. This one was obviously filled with red roses, not red poinsettias. Can they not tell the difference between flowers or are they just pulling urns that have red in them? Can the crew also put flags out for all veterans that are missing flags? I did leave a smaller flag at my dad’s site so it would not look empty. He and all of the veterans no matter where they are buried deserve a flag that they earned and respectively deserve one. I share the smaller flags and place them at sites, but those were even removed.

I called the cemetery over a week ago and left two messages. I want my urn back and my dad should have a new flag. I abided by their rules and the urn was carelessly thrown away.

I also contacted a local VFW hall to let them know what is happening to veterans' flags. I know they are not handled the right way as they are thrown away. So disrespectful.

Again, I hope you can put an article in your paper and hopefully the crews at these cemeteries can show more respect especially to grieving families of deceased loved ones and make sure that all veterans have flags. They protected this Country and some have given their lives for all of us. Their final resting place should have a flag on it.

To this day, I have not received any email or phone call from the head of grounds keepers at Gate of Heaven and other places that I have contacted. I know that this complaint may not be important to some people, but it hurts deeply especially during these very difficult times. Correctly decorating a loved ones resting place is personal and very meaningful to many people. To know a veteran has the flag in their military plaque is a peaceful feeling knowing they are being respected.

Thank you,
Trisha A Rossi


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