Families angered by removal of mementos from Arlington National Cemetery's Section 60
A cleanup effort is angering families of service members laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery.
The fight is over mementos removed from Section 60, where victims of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are buried.
It is one place in the Washington region where unfortunately the work never stops, honoring America's war heroes.
But it's how they're honored that's drawn fire recently. Large displays and framed photos -- pictures taped onto headstones -- suddenly vanished as cemetery workers removed the mementos from Section 60.
"After my daughter arrived in 2010, I actually brought her birth announcement to the cemetery because I couldn't imagine acknowledging this in some way with my brother, that he was an uncle, even though he died three years prior to my daughter's arrival."
After weeks of debate a compromise of sorts was reached. Visitors can once again leave small items for their loved ones, but nothing affixed to the headstones, No glass, tobacco, alcohol, or anything deemed to be a hazard. Just flags and flowers, the occasional note from mom, and pumpkins are popular this time of year.
But the compromise comes with a catch. The small items can be left through the winter when cemetery maintenance slows and the grass isn't cut as often. But starting in April any items left there will be cleared every two weeks. And that includes the most important day at the cemetery, Memorial Day...
There is a sense that the conflict is still not over because our troops are still deployed in Afghanistan and still in harm's way there. And for families this has been a way to memorialize and remember their loved one.
Those fighting for the right to leave an endless amount of mementos behind will take their fight to Congress in a few weeks, but they admit it's a long battle to get to where they can memorialize their loved ones by leaving more than heavy hearts behind.