I-Team: Concerns raised over condition of RI veterans cemetery
EXETER, R.I. —
The grass is growing briskly in Section C, way in the back and far from the Rhode Island Veterans' Memorial Cemetery's well-kept street sign.
The weeds are sprouting up too.
"It's kind of a travesty that the headstones are in this condition," said Donald Agli, of North Kingstown.
Agli's father, John Agli, is buried at the Exeter cemetery. John Agli was a member of the U.S Navy Construction Battalion and served in World War II and Korea.
"I've been here many times where people have come from out of state or relatives that haven't been here for a while and they can't find the headstone because they're covered," Donald Agli said.
So Agli, a U.S. Navy veteran, took it upon himself to clean up his father's headstone. He also uncovered the names of other servicemen and servicewomen.
"It's just disrespectful for all the veterans that served. If I were buried here I sure wouldn't want my headstone to look like that," he said.
Associate Director of Veteran Affairs Kim Ripoli told NBC 10 the cemetery is undergoing a makeover, albeit slowly.
"There are about eight sections that are being worked on. We got a $1.1 million grant by the Veterans Affairs to do the headstone project. We treat every headstone, every grave with the utmost respect and courtesy," she said.
The cemetery covers nearly 265 acres and Ripoli, who also served in the military for more than 25 years, said it's the third busiest cemetery in the country. It performs an average of 12 interments a day.
Thousands of headstones are being raised up and fresh gravel is being placed underneath.
Eventually the reconstruction will reach the spot where Agli's father is buried. But until that time, he'll make sure he has his garden tools with him to clean his headstone.