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Bergen Native: Overgrown Military Vet Graves Neglected At Paramus Cemetery

One of the overgrown stones at the Paramus cemetery.
One of the overgrown stones at the Paramus cemetery. Photo Credit: COURTESY: Sean Murphy

PARAMUS, N.J. -- A Bergen County native paying respects to his late mother-in-law was shocked to find the graves of military veterans at George Washington Memorial Park in Paramus covered with grass and weeds.

"Some stones were completely covered over. Some said Purple Heart recipients," Sean Murphy told Facebook. "You have to dig to see that they're even there.

"You would never see Holy Cross looking like this -- it's horrible," Murphy said. "If nothing else, they should get VFWs or Boy Scout troop coming here to clear all these graves."

"Me and the kids cleared a couple graves off that were nearby my mother-in-law's. We could have spent the day here [clearing more].

"Something should be done to clean this up," the North Arlington native said.

"I go out there at least once a year and clean off the grave sites, too," added Robert E. Kirsch of Hackensack. "Our volunteer firefighters go to our brothers buried there days before Memorial Day to clear off the markers, since most of their family has also passed or moved on. Sad, very sad."

"I have to go to the office and get a maintenance worker to come to the graves with me and clear the makers. So much for perpetual care," Paramus native Nancy Ehret von Seekamm said. "Wouldn't this be a great Eagle Scout or Gold Star project? I wonder if the cemetery would allow it."

Managers at George Washington Memorial Park -- a non-profit, non-sectarian association founded 78 years ago -- couldn't immediately be reached on Saturday.

However, at least one borough resident spoke on their behalf.

"Does anyone realize how many grave sites there are at the cemetery? Thousands," Stacey Evans Sheridan wrote. "Do you know how long it will take to clean up each individual grave stone?

"The graves right now are going for around $3,000. Do you have any idea the amount of manpower it would take and how much it would cost to 'clean up' each grave?" she added. 

"It is in their contract and even right on their website that they do minimal care for the graves," Sheridan wrote. "That means mowing, snow removal and trash removal. If the grave is overgrown, no one goes to clean it up. I go 3-4 times a year to clean up my families' [graves]."

Along with many veterans and public servants, it is the final resting place for, among others, New York Yankees catcher Elston Howard, two members of the Isley Brothers snging group, Marin and O'Kelly, legendary rhythym and blues singer Clyde McPhatter (who sang with the Billy Ward & the Dominoes and the Drifters) and R&B and soul singer/songwriter Luther Vandross.


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