Over the past few days, news has come out that an Iraq war veteran named Kimberly Walker, who is believed to have been murdered this past Valentine's Day by her ex-boyfriend, recently had her cemetery stone removed from her grave. The reason why? Regulations by the cemetery.
Ms. Walker is a proud Patriot who supported our nation in the U.S. Military. She also happened to be a fan of SpongeBob SquarePants. And upon her death, her family wanted to honor Kimberly by making her headstone a 7-foot tall SpongeBob SquarePants headstone in an Army uniform with Walker's name and rank.
Most people do not know this, but 99% of cemeteries have regulations on things such as size, shape, and material of headstones that they allow within their cemeteries. My father's cemetery, for example, has a restriction on the size of the base of a headstone. It also has a restriction on height. If a person wanted to put a 20 foot tall monument within his cemetery, the cemetery (based on their guidelines) would say "no" that that.
However, in the case the Walker's, a staff member of the cemetery that has Kimberly's grave actually told the family that having a seven foot tall SpongeBob SquarePants memorial was permissible. Now, the cemetery has come forth to say that that staff member was wrong, and that the memorial should never have been put in in the first place.
This is clearly a messy situation. My personal belief is that error falls on the side of the cemetery. They did not have their staff properly trained, and therefore, they are responsible for this mixup. However, instead, they have had the memorial (and it's twin monument next to it in the same shapeof SpongeBob, but with a different uniform for Kimberly's living sister) removed. The Walkers spent $26,000 on these headstones, and the cemetery is prepared to reimburse the family for this. Clearly, this is a dicey situation.
What is the lesson? Well, I'll suggest two.
FIRST, forever remember that 99% of cemeteries have restrictions on things such as size, shape, and type of stone(s) that can be placed in their cemetery. Not checking and double-checking with a cemetery before hand can lead to issues such as this (and this is definitely not the first time this has happened).
SECOND, whenever possible, work with a monument dealer who understands the market and knows what questions you should be asking. These businesses, many of which are family owned and operated, have been doing this for decades and know every in and out of the system.
To read more about this story, go to: http://www.cnn.com/2013/10/22/us/spongebob-gravestone-controversy/ or http://www.foxnews.com/us/2013/10/22/cemetery-removes-iraq-war-vet-spongebob-squarepants-headstone/
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