Officials want to keep veterans cemetery plain and simple

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(PNC photo)

 

Guam – Tensions rose at the Guam Veterans Cemetery as culture clashes with rules and regulations regarding the adornment of graves.

It’s part of Guam culture to decorate and dress up the final resting places of loved ones. There are celebrated holidays, such as All Souls Day, when island residents make their way to cemeteries across the island to honor their loved ones and spruce up their gravesites. But at the Guam Veterans Cemetery, rules and regulations are in place to keep the cemetery uniform.

“The families that have their loved ones buried there are aware of these rules and its listed in the forms they have a copy,” said Fred Bordallo on The Patti Arroyo Show on K57. “All I am doing is carry out what my predecessors did. From Director Joe San Agustin to John Unpingco, the individuals that reminded families that these are regulations that have to be complied with.”

Bordallo said every three years, the National Veteran’s Cemetery administration inspects the cemetery grounds to ensure that the rules and regulations as well as the upkeep of the cemetery are up to par.

“If they find any glass vases [that are] prohibited,” Bordallo said.

He mentioned an incident when a crypt area almost burned when a lit candle fell down.

While rules seek to avert such incidents, some island residents questioned the restrictions on the placement of other items.

“I wanted to ask Mr. Bordallo [about] an American and Guam flag [my family planted] there. We don’t understand why we [had] to move the American flag and the Guam flag from the crypt area,” said a radio caller, who identified himself as Glenn. “I understand the flowers and whatever is put there, but to move the American flag and the Guam flag from there that’s very disgraceful.”

While some may be disheartened to find that the flowers or adornments they have placed on their loved ones’ graves were removed, Bordallo reminds residents that the Guam Veterans Cemetery is not like a public cemetery where graves can be adorned with flowers and trinkets.

“I understand that there is still some sensitivity every now [and then] we have our All Souls Day,” Bordallo said. “We will sometimes be sensitive to the culture, but after that they have to remove the plastic flower vases. Of course, the families are well aware and we have been getting cooperation and a lot of compliments from the veterans’ families. So it maybe just a little bit of [the] minority still might have some issues.”

Bordallo said families of loved ones buried at the Guam Veterans Cemetery will be notified when their decorations or trinkets are removed and be given time to claim the items prior to them being discarded.

Bordallo said families of loved ones buried at the Guam Veterans Cemetery will be notified when their decorations or trinkets are removed and be given time to claim the items prior to them being discarded.

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Jolene Toves
Jolene joined the PNC team in 2017, as a producer, co-anchor and investigative reporter covering law enforcement, courts and crimes. Notable coverage includes the Ehlert case, the Mark Torre Jr. trial, the Allan Agababa trial, exclusive pieces on the Life of a Drug Dealer/Addict, and Life behind bars...the story of Honofre Chargualaf and Kevin Cruz. In 2019, she was promoted to Assistant News Director and Lead Anchor. From 2015 to 2017 she served as Public Relations and Promotions Manager, for the Hotel Nikko Guam handling local radio and advertorial promotions, as well as produced and directed tv commercials for the hotel. Prior to this she worked with KUAM for three years as a reporter and segment host. She began her journalism career in 2012, working with Glimpses of Guam contributing to the Guam Business Magazine, R&R magazine, MDM magazine and the Marianas Business Journal.