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Elmhurst Cemetery owes people an apology

To the Editor:

What on earth is wrong with the management of Elmhurst Cemetery?  Where is their compassion and sense of respect? 

Recent visitors to this cemetery were treated to the horrific sight of mementos and tokens of remembrance that they had placed at the graves of their loved ones collected up and piled high into visible trash heaps. 

Small religious statues and expressions of hope in the afterlife, fraternal symbols and honorary insignias that the deceased had earned during their lifetime, even photos that loving grandchildren had perhaps left for grandparents they’ll forever miss were strewn among the awful piles that cemetery personnel had apparently determined to be “trash.” 

Saddest of all were the photos, now muddied and torn, of deceased children. Photos of beautiful lives cut short. 

Photos perhaps left behind for siblings to remember the young life that they’ll never have the opportunity to grow up with.  All these items left behind with love … now all piled together into heaps of trash.

I understand the cemetery’s need to properly maintain the graves. But even if the cemetery chooses to justify their actions by pointing to posted rules that may very well be new to even frequent visitors, there is no excuse for the callous, heartbreaking way they chose to enforce these rules. 

These loving mementos should never have been stripped from the graves and piled into roadside heaps like garbage, now broken and damaged, not unlike the grieving hearts of those who left them.

In the face of this unfathomable, moral travesty, I’ve been heartened – and, frankly, not surprised, knowing the immense heart of the majority of Joliet’s citizens – to see a grass-roots salvage mission spring up. 

Many people who share online comments about the city have taken it upon themselves to visit the cemetery and dig through these “trash heaps” to salvage their own items as well as those belonging to other families they may recognize, all done quickly, before the cemetery has them hauled away and lost forever.    

This should not be. Elmhurst Cemetery owes these families an explanation … and an apology.
Al Soley, Minooka

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