Yesterday was Saturday the 3rd of October. It was just a little over a week since the anniversary of the passing of my mom. She died September 21st, 1984. Jenny and i had planned to go visit the 21st, but a school project kept us close to home. So, yesterday, we planned to make the trip. My parents are buried at Ft Rosecrans National Cemetery here in San Diego. From our home in Pine Valley, its a good hour drive to get there. No big deal, as we do this monthly at the very least.
We left the house, and began the long drive. We have a tradition that we stop at a Mexican food joint near the cemetery. For you San Diego people, its El Indio. My parents took me to this place when i was a kid. I took my son when he was a kid, and now, i take Jenny. Since my mom passed, we stop at El Indio and get food, sit and relax. Then its about a 15 minute drive to the Cemetery.
We pulled into the Cemetery, stopped to get vases to put our flowers in. We then proceeded down the road to my parents grave. For those of you that have never been there, Ft Rosecrans is a place of beauty. Its right next to the Pacific Ocean, and there's a breathtaking view. Its all perfectly manicured, well cared for. So, imagine my surprise when i came upon where i THOUGHT my parents grave was. Their grave is right next to the road. I've been going there for 25 years, and i can find it blindfolded. And this time? The ground is dug up, there is yellow caution tape. Bulldozers, skiploaders and wheelbarrows are everywhere. The graves with stand up headstones, are all bulldozed, the headstones are leaning, and it looks like an earthquake went through it.
I thought maybe i missed the graves, so i drove the long way around to the cemetery offices. no sign, no notes, nothing. There is a small office where you can get a grave location and have it printed out. I thought 'maybe its moved' so i printed it out. Nope, same location. We drove back down to the place where my parents are supposed to be. I get out of the car, and see that ALL of the graves where the cremated remains of people were, (like my parents) are GONE. no markers, no indentations, nothing! the headstones are all piled up on top of each other covered by a loose tarp. To say i was upset would be a great understatement. Over the years, we had tucked in special momentos and various notes wrapped in plastic around the edge of the grave. My son started it when he was 4. He wanted to put a penny for luck for 'Mamaw'. Every time we visited, she got a penny. Then he would write notes. We'd wrap them in plastic and tuck them in deeply so they'd be safe. Jenny continued the tradition when she was little. Even my brother, at 51 wrote a letter to my parents and put it in there. now? i have no clue where this stuff is. I have no clue Where my parents are. And if they say, 'here are your parents' how do i know?
The entire way i home i was furious. But, to my credit, i had calmed down enough to send some emails :). First i fired off a letter to the President, which will be followed by a handwritten one tomorrow. Then a short but to the point email to a few of the news stations here in town. Almost after hitting send, Jeff Powers, from the CW6 news station, called me, wanting to do a story. He said he was mortified when he read my letter. He asked if i'd meet him at the station at 6:45pm.
Jenny and I made the almost 45 minute drive to the station, and were met by Jeff at the door. We went in, i gave him a disk with the before and after pictures of the graveyard. We sat down to do the interview. It went good. i was nervous, and found myself licking my lips. But, i got my point across! He told me he would contact me back, as soon as he got in touch with Ft Rosecrans. Since Ft Rosecrans is closed weekends, i can assume he'll have more info Monday.
This morning Jeff called to say that the Union Tribune (the San Diego paper) had done a story in July about the 'reconstruction'. he said that is still no excuse for not notifying people, or at the very least putting out a sign. But, there's nothing. I cannot put into words how desecrated these graves look. and not just my parents. HUNDREDS of gravesites are just plain torn up. Would they do this to an Indian Burial Ground? i dont think so. I told Jeff, my dad gave 30 years of his life to the military, FOR HIS COUNTRY, and now, that he's gone, this is the way he's repaid. Its just flat out disrespectful.
Anyhow, tomorrow being a business day, i'm going to make sure i get a call from Ft Rosecrans, explaining to me, where our items are. I'm going to tell them, if they had put something, anything, out to let the families know what was going on, i'd have taken my parents ashes, AND our momentos to safe keeping at my home, until the destruction was overwith. One rumor going around is that they are trying to make the cemetery look like Arlington. Fine and dandy. But, i doubt, they'd move the Kennedy's around without some notification or at least letting Caroline know.
Okay. here's some before and after pictures. I'm so much more calm today, but to Ft Rosecrans, dont let my calm and serene ways mislead you as to how i REALLY feel.
beautiful view before renovation
my parents grave before renovation
my parents section during the renovation
after the renovation. The caretaker took this pic and sent it to me
If this sign would have been visible, i wouldn't have had to raise such a stink