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Yonkers business owner finds veteran's cemetery plaque in dumpster, helps return it to family

Yonkers man returns veteran's cemetery plaque after finding it in dumpster
Yonkers man returns veteran's cemetery plaque after finding it in dumpster 02:02

YONKERS, N.Y. -- A veteran's cemetery plaque was brought back to its rightful place in Yonkers on Saturday.

The bronze grave marker of veteran Samuel Rettie had quite a journey before being returned to its original spot on, of all days, Veterans Day.

"It could've went into the wrong hands and been sold. It's an expensive metal," said John Khader, owner of Top Class Limousine.

It turned up by a dumpster just outside of Khader's limousine business in Yonkers this past summer.

Seeing that it commemorated a veteran, Khader cleaned it up and reached out to his decades-long friend, Post 40 AMVETS Commander Sam Riti, who recently traced it back to Oakland Cemetery in Yonkers.

"We need more people like that out there, helping, working together. That's what America is all about," Riti said.

"They saved history," said Dave Rettie, one of Samuel Rettie's 10 grandchildren.

Rettie, like much of his family now, lives in Utah.

He told CBS New York his grandpa Samuel immigrated to New York from Scotland, served in the New York National Guard in 1916 during World War I, then, like his own father, worked as a carpenter.

Rettie was shocked to hear about the plaque but overjoyed that it wasn't sold or recycled.

"Speaking from my family, we really appreciate that," he said. "It really makes you believe in people again."

He says his family keeps Samuel Rettie's legacy alive by serving others, working in education and nursing.

There's no word how exactly the plaque left the cemetery, but Dave Rettie is just grateful for Khader's own act of service in returning it.

"I wish I can meet them to see the look on their face," Khader said. "May that soul continue to rest in peace."

Next, Riti plans to take the plaque back to the cemetery as soon as Monday to get it mounted at its rightful place. If it comes at any cost, his post will pay for it. 

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