Family says veterans buried in cemetery are fallen and forgotten - Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Family says veterans buried in cemetery are fallen and forgotten

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By Anna Marie Hartman - bio | email

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - Families of Mid-South soldiers buried in the West Tennessee Veterans Cemetery say their fallen loved ones have been forgotten.  Outraged by conditions at the cemetery, one family contacted the Action News 5 Investigators for action!

Duard Dewain Mangum served his country for 37 years.  When the 78-year-old retired army veteran died in April, he was buried at the West Tennessee Veteran's Cemetery.  

Since then, for Dawn Cratin, there's been a lot of unrest over her father's final resting place.

"They served our country, and they deserved to be honored, and I don't feel like he's being honored - none of them," Cratin said in a recent interview.

Each time Cratin visits the cemetery, she documents the deteriorating condition of her father's grave and the grounds around him.

"The head stones have sunken into the ground where you can't see the dates," she said. "Military is supposed to be uniform. These are not uniform."

A section of the cemetery is full of dried mud, soil has caved in to form huge trenches, and grass has washed away from graves.  According to Cratin, the property manager won't address the poor drainage system.

"I personally told him that I was going over his head to see that this was taken care of, and that's what I did. I called Nashville and I called ya'll," she said.

Cratin was not the first person to ask Action News 5 to investigate a fallen and seemingly forgotten loved one. Other families provided pictures of the shocking sinking graves of servicemen and women. 

Relatives say the remains of a deceased person in any type of cemetery deserve the utmost respect.  But when it comes to those who serve our country, they say management should be held to a slightly higher standard.

Contacted by Action News 5, the Assistant Commissioner for Veteran's Affairs in Nashville was aware of Cratin's complaint, and promised to visit Memphis.  One month later, Dawn Cratin and her sister, Bonita, took Norman Nash, Tennessee's Assistant Commissioner for Cemeteries and Administrative Services, on a tour of the cemetery.

"The greatest problem I see is that we need to get our roads in better shape," he said.

Nash said engineers will have to evaluate the problem, and he'll have to see whether the cost of the repairs will fit into his budget.

"I think the cemetery has done a pretty good job of working with the situation, but at some point you have to get someone who has better skills and resources," he said.

Duard Dewain Mangum's family was happy to hear help may be on the way.

"He said he would what he could do, and he appreciates us bringing the water issue up to him," Cratin said.

Loved ones hope the government will find the money somewhere to honor those who have earned a more serene setting than what currently exists in exchange for their service and sacrifice.

If you've had problems with the West Tennessee Veteran's Cemetery, you need to report them to the Veteran's Affairs office in Nashville. The number is 615-741-2931

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