Disturbing discovery on Mother's Day

May 11, 2009 5:40:32 PM PDT
There was a disturbing discovery for one Houston family who wanted to visit their mother's grave on Mother's Day. They found the headstone was gone. Dozens of headstones from the Houston National Cemetery in northwest Harris County have been moved for renovations. But that's upset some people.

There are thousands of veterans buried there. And though the renovations are designed to make things more pleasant than before, it is causing some pain for a local family.

"I just don't think, I don't think they're where they're suppose to be," said Elaine Wilson, whose parents are buried in the cemetery.

Wilson is distraught a day after discovering her parents' headstones missing when she came to pay her respects on Mother's Day.

"You could at least put temporary markers or something so you wold know where they're buried," she said.

Wilson's parents, World War II veteran Harry Lee and his wife, Carrie, are buried in section B of the Houston National Cemetery, a section that's undergoing major renovation. Every headstone had to be removed for the project and Wilson just doesn't think they're being replaced properly.

"You believe these stones where they're suppose to be?" Wilson asked cemetery director George Lopez.

"Definitely," said Lopez.

Lopez bristled at the allegation. He agreed that the renovations may be a bit of a shock to visiting families, but says every grave is being treated with care, and every headstone is carefully plotted using GPS before they are removed.

"I'm telling you, I'm a veteran, and I have a son buried in a national cemetery," said Lopez. "I'm going to be buried here, so I want the best."

The best, say the Wilsons, would've meant a renovation where the headstones wouldn't be removed.

"You shouldn't even have to wonder where they were supposed to be, just the principal on itself," said Lauren Wilson, whose grandparents are buried there.

Lopez says that's simply unrealistic in large national cemeteries and offered Wilson the option of making certain her parents' headstones are in the right place.

"Whenever we finish the section and you can come in and we will open it so we can assure you that it is there," said Lopez.

The Wilson family hasn't decided whether or not to take the cemetery up on that offer. The cemetery tells us they've renovated other sections in the past and they've had to open up caskets to show families who are concerned.

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