April 11, 2002 - Some of the territory's public cemeteries are overgrown with weeds and shrubs to the point that it's hard to locate graves, Sen. Norma Pickard-Samuel charged Thursday.
Groups that traditionally put flags on veterans' graves for Memorial Day will find the task difficult this year as they try to make their way through the heavy growth, she said. And family members who maintain individual plots face an uphill battle because weeds from surrounding graves quickly find their way to the well-kept ones.
The problem is particularly acute in Western Cemetery on St. Thomas and in Christiansted Cemetery, she said, and Kingshill Cemetery on St. Croix also needs work. She said she didn't know about the condition of the cemeteries in Frederiksted, in Cruz Bay and in Hospital Ground on St. Thomas.
"I implore the commissioner of Public Works to initiate a territorywide cleanup campaign so that our dear departed are truly resting in peace and not surrounded by the blight of indifference," Pickard-Samuel said in a release.
The Public Works Department is responsible for maintaining the territory's cemeteries. Commissioner Wayne Callwood could not be reached Thursday for comment.
The state of the cemeteries not only is disrespectful to all people in the Virgin Islands but is a disgraceful environment for departed veterans who gave their lives to preserve freedom, Pickard-Samuel said. "It doesn't speak well of the community," she said.
In years past, she said, the cemeteries were well-maintained. Saying she is ready to do whatever it takes to get the cemeteries in shape. She said she favored the formation of a "friends of the cemeteries" group that would improve conditions at the territory's public cemeteries.
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