Shattered headstones of veterans found in creek cause concern - KCTV5

Shattered headstones of veterans found in creek cause concern

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LEAVENWORTH, KS (KCTV) -

Shattered headstones of veterans found in a creek near Leavenworth National Cemetery have caused concern for anyone who sees them.

Heavy machinery now blocks the creek that drains water from Leavenworth National Cemetery. Crews will excavate and then destroy 12 tombstones a hiker found discarded in the stream.

The cemetery director, William Owensby, said the stones should never have been there in the first place.

"The most important thing is that we don't have an incident that breaks the trust of our public," he said.

Owensby said the limestone slabs are all castaways, old grave markers that might have a misspelled name or out-of-date information. According to cemetery protocol, they are supposed to remain on the grounds for eternity.

"When it gets replaced we have to do something with it, and the only thing we're comfortable with is making sure it never gets out of our possession," he said.

Owensby believes the tombstones were ditched in the stream in the 1990s and resurfaced when rainwater washed them back up.

"When there's huge storms, the water runs through here so rapidly that it tears out if you don't have brick or stone or something laid on the side. It starts the erosion process," he said.

The stones will be properly disposed of in the next few days. They'll be broken up into smaller pieces, crushed and buried.

"These are hallowed grounds. This is where we bury our nation's heroes. The rules are put there for a reason and the reason is so that families can feel 100 percent certain that their loved ones' headstone has not been taken off the grave and now there's nothing marking the grave," Owensby said.

The cemetery's director checked to make sure that no graves in the cemetery were missing markers. He said he takes the incident seriously out of respect for the heroes buried there.

"We're veterans taking care of veterans. Everybody that works in the cemetery tries really hard to make everything perfect," Owensby said.

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