Cemetery’s flag disposal irks city woman

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 10, 2002

A pile of discarded grave site arrangements and American flags is at Green Acres Memorial Park Tuesday.(The Vicksburg Post/C. TODD SHERMAN)

[04/10/02]Trashing American flags has been added to complaints against a private cemetery in Vicksburg.

“I can’t believe the flags were all messed up and thrown down,” said Patricia Zingery whose son, Cory, is interred at Green Acres Memorial Park off U.S. 80 at Beechwood.

Email newsletter signup

Sign up for The Vicksburg Post's free newsletters

Check which newsletters you would like to receive
  • Vicksburg News: Sent daily at 5 am
  • Vicksburg Sports: Sent daily at 10 am
  • Vicksburg Living: Sent on 15th of each month

Asked about the removal of the flags and other items in a pile, cemetery manager James Horne referred visitors to a copy of Green Acres’ maintenance regulations available in its office.

While Zingery said she was unhappy with the way rules on the placement of grave decorations at Green Acres are being enforced, she said she was particularly disappointed in the treatment of an American flag and holder she placed on her son’s grave.

The flag, along with several others, flowers and decorations from other graves were apparently removed in accordance with the privately maintained cemetery’s regulations and piled outside a maintenance shed in view of passers-by in the cemetery.

Another Warren County woman, Kathryn Walker, has sued Green Acres’ new management, which took over in December, claiming that it unfairly stripped her husband’s grave as punishment for not buying a grave marker from the cemetery company.

Green Acres, through its attorney, has replied that Walker was mistaken on the facts of the matter.

The perpetual care cemetery was founded more than 30 years ago and contains hundreds of graves. Families buy lots, and the price includes a guarantee that mowing and other maintenance will take place without further costs. In turn, there are restrictions on the types of markers people can place and how graves can be decorated.

In an October 2000 letter from the cemetery’s former president, owners were informed that, beginning Jan. 2, 2001, regulations would be more strictly enforced. By the copy of the regulations, the cemetery reserves for itself broad leeway to remove items “objectionable or inappropriate” and “flowers, potted plants, wreaths or baskets of withered flowers.” And Green Acres is authorized “to make such removal when it is in the best interest of the cemetery.”

While she said she didn’t know what she could do about it, Zingery said she was disappointed.

“There are certain ways you dispose of a flag,” she said. “I hated that they’d taken people’s stuff and just dumped it.”

Flag honor codes call for the reverent burning of torn or tattered American or state flags as the respectful means of disposal.

Federal and state laws also prohibit flag desecration, making some mishandling of banners a misdemeanor. The laws exempt disposal, however, as fitting the definition of desecration.