In response to the letter which appeared in the OBSERVER, addressing conditions at Willowbrook Park Cemetery, specifically, uncut grass and flags missing from the graves of veterans.
The cemetery grounds staff, which consists mainly of two individuals, has done an excellent job of maintaining the grounds under very trying circumstances. Due to the very wet spring, certain areas of the cemetery, the grass could not be cut, for fear of getting the lawn mower stuck or leaving tracks embedded in the lawn. For this reason, the grass was cut in sections, where the ground was not as wet. All of the grass on the cemetery grounds was cut prior to Memorial Day weekend.
The ground was so saturated at the cemetery, that two graveside services scheduled had to be moved to the center of the cemetery where conditions were drier. Still, plywood sheets had to be placed on the ground for the safety of the mourners. The funeral director thanked the head grounds man, for having the insight to move the service from the graveside to avoid the muddy conditions.
The flags are placed on the graves of veterans by the members of local service organizations on the Wednesday prior to Memorial Day, weather permitting. The members are volunteers and this has been the practice for years. All flags were in place prior to Memorial Day and will remain on the graves till after the Fourth of July.
I am familiar with this tradition as I am a past commander of American Legion Post 62.
Paul Heyden is board president of the Willowbrook Park Cemetery in Dunkirk.