JoAnne Whicker of North Dakota visits Grand Fork Memorial Park often because she has family members buried in the cemetery. During her last visit to the cemetery, she was upset over the appearance of some of the veteran grave sites. “I think it’s sad. “We have to remember what they have done for our country and to look at it right now it’s like its forgotten.” said Whickler. Robin Purcell, who is the manager of this the 35 acre cemetery, said their small staff of six address monument decay, but it is hard to address every case due to lack of help and funding. They are a nonprofit cemetery and large monuments can cost as much as $400-$500 for a permanent fix.
Purcell is happy to get this information out to the community and said if there is someone out there who is willing to come in and volunteer, their help could go a long away. Whicker also mentioned she is willing to facilitate a fundraiser if needed to help raise money to repair the damaged gravesites. She recently reached out to the VFW, American Legion and Grand Forks County Veterans Services to find a solution. “Freedom is not free and they paid the ultimate price. “It should be a place to be proud of and you can’t be proud of what’s out there.” said Whicker.
Our veterans nationwide deserve the right to an honorable gravesite. They put their lives on the line for our country and deserve to be honored forever. This is not always possible as many cemeteries out there are nonprofit, understaffed, and abandoned. It is almost impossible to buy a new gravestone for every deceased U.S. veteran, but maybe if more citizens volunteered within their communities, our veterans would have more honorable gravesites. Local communities could hold fundraisers to help raise money to purchase new headstone monuments if old ones are damaged beyond repair. Also, volunteers could get together and clean up those veteran gravesites that are left in abandoned cemeteries. Small steps such as mowing the lawn, planting the flowers, and cleaning up the damaged grave markers can go a long way. Not every veteran gravesite is damaged. There are a lot of veterans buried with dignity inside beautiful and well-kept cemeteries. But for those who are not, we should band together as a nation and clean up these damaged veteran burial sites.
This story was written by Anna Burleson, a reporter for the Grand Forks Herald newspaper. To read more on the story, visit: