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Families Upset After Cemetery Removes Veterans' Military Flag Standards, Place In Pile On Ground

LANGHORNE, Pa. (CBS) -- Family members are upset after a cemetery in Langhorne removed military flag standards of veterans and placed them in a pile on the ground. Pictures began circulating on Facebook of piles of flag standards on the ground at Our Lady of Grace Cemetery and now the Archdiocese of Philadelphia is trying to figure out what happened.

Our Lady of Grace Cemetery Markers
(credit: CBS3)

A new management company has taken over the cemetery and is now enforcing rules to keep certain items off the stones.

"Those markers should be on a veteran's grave," said Bill Stout, of the American Legion of Langhorne. "We honor our veterans.

In a statement, the archdiocese said worn and deteriorated service markers were removed and will be retired in a respectful manner in accordance with the U.S. flag code and will be replaced.

"As part of its work, the company recently removed worn and deteriorated flags as well as deteriorated service markers from the graves of military veterans. The vault company will see that the flags are retired in a respectful manner following the guidelines of the U.S. flag code and will work with the parish to replace them with new flags. The deteriorated markers will be stored for a period of at least six months. If family members wish to retrieve them they may contact the vault company directly. The parish will work with the vault company and appropriate government agencies to obtain replacement markers for those that were removed as part of the maintenance process," the archdiocese said in a statement.

The statement continued, "Any other items that were removed from gravesites were taken away as they do not comply with the longstanding and posted policy regarding cemetery rules for grave displays. Those items are being held by the vault company for a period of at least six months and are available to any family members who may wish to retrieve them. "

Those with family members buried here say the company is enforcing other policies about what can be placed by tombstones stricter than previous regimes, which includes flowers and other items.

"I guess it's enforcement of rules that are in place, but then again, that sign's been here the 50 years I've been coming here and it's never been a problem" Steve Abbot said.

"I go into the cemetery to check my three graves -- my father, my uncle and my grandfather's, I make sure the flags stay there," Brian Kilpatrick said.

No notice was provided of the removal of what's left behind, including the flag standards.

"Yes, there should have been some notice," Abbot said. "Walk around every Grace, here's the new rules. I know that's a lot of work."

CBS3's Dan Koob reports.

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