I am a retired military person and my brother is a Vietnam era veteran. Our mother and father (also a disabled veteran) are buried at St. Joseph’s cemetery. My brother and I visit my parents’ grave site every week. There is a complete disregard by the maintenance workers of the cemetery when it comes to mowing over and completely breaking the military markers placed by the local veterans’ organizations in Pittsfield.
Over the years, I have decorated the veterans graves along with the VFW and the Vietnam Veterans of Pittsfield, and after the graves are decorated my brother and I have continually picked up grave markers that have been destroyed along with the American flags that are placed in the holders. It’s bad enough that there are people who steal and destroy the markers for monetary gain or foolish fun. These markers cost a lot of money and when the markers run low, the rest of the graves are marked with whatever is left -- markers not coinciding with the war they were in.
The grass clippings nearly cover the grave stones. The cemetery preaches about how there are rules we the veterans and people of Pittsfield have to follow, the workers are paid to take reasonable care and maintenance of the grave sites -- the money that is spent on markers that are destroyed or stolen could be used to hire another one or two maintenance workers if the cemetery becomes shorthanded.
The veterans organizations of Pittsfield have a hard time keeping up with the veterans who die every day and try to honor them and their families with firing squads and presentation of the American flag to the families of the veterans who have died during and after their service to their country. The lack of responsibility by the maintenance workers and their supervisors shows a lack of respect for the veterans who are buried at St. Joseph’s cemetery.
ANTHONY J. MARTINI
The writer is a USAF T/Sgt. (retired), past president of Vietnam Veterans Chapter #65, past president American Legion Riders Chapter #1, Dalton, Post 155).