Editor: Just recently, the VA announced that a new director will be taking over the Ft Rosecrans – and Miramar – cemeteries in mid-August. Douglas Ledbetter, an Air Force vet and former director of the national cemeteries in Illinois and Nebraska (more on Ledbetter at the end of this post). Apparently, the Ft Rosecrans cemetery has been a revolving door for short-time directors over the years. Peter Young – the former director – was on board less than a year. And the director before him served only one year.
We don’t know if this is due to the Widder Curry taking on this issue of the conditions at the Ft. Rosecrans Cemetery or not, but here is here latest report of her most visit.
After celebrating one of the widows of my support group birthday, we thought it would be nice to drive up to Ft. Rosecrans to visit our husbands and see what, if any progress, was being made at the cemetery.
Since August of 2012, I have been writing articles about the deplorable condition of the cemetery. Last month Turko (KUSI) did a report on the cemetery and, although it was pointing out how long it has taken for anything constructive to be accomplished, he felt that a “turn around” was taking place. Maybe. And maybe not.
Since I appeared briefly on the program - I thought that maybe getting Turko involved really would make a difference. The footage that was aired – Memorial Day, for example – was not the current conditions of the cemetery. Today was worse.
In the past, Candy, Irene and I have been able to visit the niche in the wall where our husbands are interred. This time everything was blocked off and unless we were willing to take a 1/4-1/2 mile hike through construction cones, mesh, rebar, etc. there was no way we could access the area. I want to point out that when I went to the cemetery on July 6th, I could not get to Bob’s wall either. This means that if I wanted to go “visit” my husband’s resting place, I am unable to do so. This is just not acceptable.
I cannot, for the life of me, understand why ALL of the graves and walls must be realigned at the same time. In fact, I cannot understand why they have to be realigned at all. Give us a little earthquake and they will be out of alignment again.
I keep hearing that the water has been turned off and no sprinklers are working. Interesting, because I stopped at the two water faucets on the side of the road to see if water was available to place in vases for flowers, and, to my surprise, water came out of both of them. Damn it! If there is water available then use it.
And now, as was on the 6th, there is a sign telling me “Road temporarily closed. Sorry for the inconvenience”. This is the ONLY sign telling what is going on and guess where it is. It is at a “V” where you can no longer drive the road to the wall. And…it is right in front of a small area where the green “grass” (sic) is artificial turf. If this isn’t ludicrous. Right in front of the road leading to some of the wall niches, is a beautiful patch of green. Is that supposed to make me feel better? Candy pointed to it and said, “look how green that is. Why can’t the rest of the area be green.” When I got out of the car to take a picture, I realized that it was not grass at all. What a waste of money; what a joke to those of us having loved ones at the cemetery.
Not too many years ago I visited Arlington Cemetery – a place where there are all sorts of weather conditions, from heat, to ice, to snow, etc. That cemetery was beautiful – green; well kept up. Funny, just the way that Ft. Rosecrans used to be.
I don’t believe a thing that the administration of the cemetery is telling me about completion of what ever they are doing there. I heard it would be complete by August, 2013. Friends, that is two weeks away. This cemetery is an embarrassment; this cemetery is an affront to all of the service men and women buried there. This never should have been allowed to happen; and if work needed to be done it should have been done a little at a time. It makes me physically ill to see the eroded surroundings of a once beautiful area. Shame on Ft. Rosecrans and their administration.
Editor’s Note on Douglas Ledbetter: According to the U-T San Diego:
Ledbetter oversaw five cemeteries in Illinois and Iowa, including the Civil War-era Rock Island Confederate Cemetery and Oakdale Soldiers’ Lot. Before that, he was in charge of Fort McPherson National Cemetery in Nebraska. …
Ledbetter is married and has three children. In the Air Force, he participated in Operation Provide Comfort, the 1991 mission to help the Kurdish people in Iraq following the first Gulf War, among other postings.