Families upset after personal tokens removed from grave sites in Union Co

MONROE, NC (WBTV) - Some people in Union County are furious after mementos left at the grave sites of loved ones were removed or thrown in the trash.

The families say they were not given any notice by LakeLand Memorial Park that the trinkets would be moved. The families say they've been able to leave things before without any issues but the cemetery says it's listed as part of the rules.

The cemetery sent a notice through the newspaper and over the radio that items around graveyards would be removed, but many families members who have loved ones buried here say, that wasn't enough to notify them.

"How many guys died worldwide for their right to even have this cemetery? So this is awful," said Marine veteran Jim Pueschel.

For these people it boils down to respect.

Chris Manus who has several relatives buried at LakeLand says, "It's not a good thing, it's not a good thing."

Flags, family tokens and other sentimental items have been removed by staff members at Lakeland Memorial, because it's against cemetery rules to place items around the grave.

"A lot of family members have been out here since the 70's and we put stuff on headstones throughout the years and no one has ever said anything," says Manus.

Jim Pueschel spent Monday morning fishing flags out of the dumpster that once adorned veteran's graves.

"A guy came over from the cemetery and said we had to get out we're disrespecting the dead. I held these up, do you not call these disrespectful and he said was I'm sorry," said Pueschel.

Manus says they've placed items out of love and remembrance for decades. So the question remains, why is it a problem now.

"And they don't have an answer," Manus said.

He believes no care was shown as the items were tossed away.

"Anywhere from broken angels, crosses little race cars that may have been left by a grandparent that a little kid played with before they passed away" he added.

A cemetery is a sacred place and many here believe it wasn't treated like one.

"We should be able to come down here and leave something on their grave site saying we still think about you," a family member said.

LakeLand Memorial Park sent out a statement saying they'll address the concerns because they value the relationship of families who have loved ones here.

Monroe police were also out monitoring the situation due to the high level of emotion.

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