Friday, June 29, 2007

Respect for the Dead: It's Illegal in Cleveland

Posted By on Fri, Jun 29, 2007 at 3:11 PM

When we last checked in with Cleveland Memorial Gardens, the city cemetery resembled more muddy marsh than tranquil home for eternity [“Burial At Sea,” November 8, 2006]. Tombstones were completely submerged in water. The grass was unwilling to grow. At the time, Maureen Harper, spokeswoman for Mayor Frank Jackson, said the city hoped to fix the grounds by mid-November. But it appears they never got around to it. On Memorial Day, Mike Jackson headed out to the cemetery to decorate relatives’ graves with flags and flowers. But thanks to drainage problems, he was unable to fix flags anywhere near his family plots, which were heavily caked in mud. He immediately called the city to complain. “I was just fed up,” Jackson says. “The headstones were sinking.” David Mitchell, the city’s cemetery manager, told Jackson there was little the city could do to correct the problem, since effort, imagination, and respect for the dead are all against city statute. “He told us that my loved ones were in one of the best sections in the whole cemetery,” Jackson says. “I couldn’t believe it. He’s nothing but a salesman for the city.” While Mitchell and Jackson talked, three families came to bury their loved ones in distant plots. “I asked him he’d told those families about the land’s problems,” Jackson says. “He didn’t say a thing. It’s just so wrong.” – Denise Grollmus

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