American flags at grave sites in East Greenbush shredded, used to hold up tomato plants

August 27, 2018 11:06 AM

EAST GREENBUSH – Kristen Coyne goes to Holy Sepulchre Cemetery in East Greenbush every week. While there, she visits her parents and her son Tyler's grave sites. Tyler was 18 when he died of a brain tumor two years ago.

She’s recently noticed all of the love, care and meticulous placement of sentimental objects was gone.

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"The first time I saw the emptiness of my son's grave, I was just heartbroken," said Coyne. "I don't even know if a sorry would cut it. That's the least that should happen."

Maria Reardon is also outraged. She visits her parents' graves regularly. She said besides the muddy grass clippings on the tombstones, she was also upset to discover several missing items. That included her father's VFW plaque recognizing his military service in World War II and a missing American flag.

"The only thing I would want to have known is why we weren't informed of this beforehand," explained Reardon. "We would have straightened up ourselves and I think most people would."

People said they weren't notified that personal items, such as photographs, urns, and special messages needed to be removed so that caretakers could cut the grass. Many items are irreplaceable, such as soldier medallions, many of which date back to the Civil War.

"We learned about everything being cleared out the hard way, just showing up one day," said Coyne.

Although families said they've been able to retrieve lost items piled up near a maintenance shed, many were still left wondering what happened to all the American flags that disappeared from the grave sites. But when you look behind the maintenance shed, there’s a vegetable garden. In there people can see the red, white, and blue shreds of American flags that have been tied to the tomato plants, holding them in place.

"I think this is disrespectful, disloyal, un-American," said Reardon. "It's obviously just carelessness, thoughtlessness, a lack of respect."

Coyne felt the same way.

"Flags taken from my son's, my parents', many people’s graves and cut up like this to be used in such an ungrateful, un-loyal way, it's just mind-blowing that anyone would even do this," added Coyne.

Reardon said she would like an apology for what has happened.

"I don't know about making good, but I think it would go a long way if they put an article or something in the newspaper with an apology to people," explained Reardon.

NewsChannel 13 left a message with church office that runs the cemetery, but have yet to hear back.


Dan Levy

Copyright 2018 WNYT-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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