Veterans’ families need to decide on grave markers
April 27, 2010
Once again this year, the local chapter of the Veterans of Foreign Wars plans to continue its two-decade tradition of placing flags and crosses at this year’s Memorial Day service at Hillside Cemetery.
And once again, members need input from the families of veterans buried there to get the job done.
This year’s Memorial Day ceremony is at 10 a.m. May 31 at the cemetery.
In 2008, a resident complained about the placement of crosses at the gravesites. The VFW and Flintoft’s Funeral Home now ask families of veterans buried at the cemetery to sign a form authorizing the placement of various symbols, including a flag, cross, Star of David or other symbols that a family recommends at the gravesite. Families can choose more than one symbol or none.
Some family members may not want their veteran’s grave marked with a cross and it’s possible that a U.S. flag may not be appropriate for some graves, too, he said.
“It was never meant to be offensive to anyone,” said David Waggoner, a 26-year veteran of the U.S. Army who served in Vietnam. “It was meant to carry on the tradition to honor those veterans.”
If families have already filled out a form, they need not do it again, said Waggoner, senior vice commander of the VFW Albert Larson Post No. 3436. Last year’s call for responses netted more than 70 responses. But in 2008, more than 400 crosses were placed at gravesites at Hillside Cemetery during the Memorial Day event, so there are many more people who need to fill out a form, Waggoner said.
Waggoner said the military does not consider crosses a religious symbol. Crosses are used as a marker for the placement of gravesites and have been for decades. He cited the example of two large cemeteries of World War II veterans — one near Normandy, France, and the other in Luxembourg.
What to know
Forms can be found at www.issaquahpress.com. Volunteers will also be at Hillside Cemetery all day May 29 and 30 to put out crosses, flags and other symbols, and will have forms available.