To The Editor:
Two and a half years ago I lost my husband to a silent killer, cancer. Tom was a Vietnam veteran, served in the Air Force for 20 years, worked as a teacher/guidance counselor at Cape May County Vo-Tech, Wildwood High School, Cape Com-Pact School, was a member of Big Brothers and president of Shark (Stone Harbor Amateur Radio Club). He was buried in February in Veterans Cemetery. For two years or more, my daughter, son-in-law and I have tired to get grass to grow. We have paid for and put top grade topsoil on his plot. We have watered, maintained, weeded, trimmed and edged the area to get the grass to grow. We purchased top-grade sod, fertilized and continued to water but the grass would not grow. In the fall, my daughter asked, and was given permission, to plant a perennial garden on his grave. More dirt, mulch, and bulbs were used. This became a family project. Even the grandchildren became involved. Lots of research went into this project. There aren’t any trees so we had to find flowers and plants that would survive the harsh conditions at the cemetery. This spring the flowers came up and to everyone’s surprise, thrived. Going to the cemetery three to four times a week was a joy. We met so many people who would stop just to say hello and comment on our little garden. We allowed them to cut flowers to place on their loved ones graves. Not one person complained. Did we know it was against the rules? No. We asked and were granted permission. We were even told ahead of time about the project at the cemetery. We applaud their project. We have been asking for years to have the back of the cemetery kept up. It had not been. Freeholder Gerald M. Thornton told us the project of trying to grow grass in the back of the cemetery and even out the headstones would not begin until the fall. Charles Adelizzi, veterans interment officer from the Veterans Bureau said, “no, we are starting now.” He told us the flowers could stay until the workers came close to my husband’s grave and then we could move them to a new location close by. Now we cannot even do that. Sometime after Friday, and before Monday, two workers at the cemetery ripped out all the flowers, leaving gapping holes on my husband’s plot. His final resting-place has been vandalized, desecrated. This act is deplorable and despicable. Everywhere we turned, we were given permission. Everyone has a different answer. The freeholders and the Veteran's Bureau are not even on the same page. How can you get grass to grow if there isn’t a water sprinkler in place? The front of the cemetery gets watered every day. Not the back. Three times more attention and effort is placed on the front of the cemetery than the back. How can you take on this project without an irrigation system in place? How can the county and the curator at the cemetery allow two college-age boys to ride around in a cart and rip up a veteran’s final resting place? This is the biggest slap in the face our veterans have had to take. Our V.F.W. needs to fight to put a stop to this. Our family deserves an apology. The project is not even close to my husband’s grave, and the flowers were ripped out. Adelizzi told us the flowers could stay until the workers got closer to his grave, then move them to a new spot one row over. We have been treated rudely with disrespect. Our veteran's deserve more.
DARLENE MARKS AND FAMILY