MEMPHIS, TN - (WMC-TV) – Veterans Day is officially observed this Sunday. The many people visiting veterans' cemeteries in Tennessee might be in for a shock when they see all of the sinking graves.
"Our Veterans have served, they have sacrificed and their final resting place should be nothing but pristine perfection," TN Department of Veterans Affairs Commissioner Many-Bears Grinder said.
But for many resting places at the West Tennessee Veterans Cemetery it is anything but pristine. Grave after grave is filled in with dirt because they are sinking.
"When the grave sinks it is unsightly to the family of the Veteran deserves the best," Grinder said.
Veteran cemeteries across the state have sinking graves. There are several reasons.
"We see in some parts of the state veterans being brought to the cemetery in trash bags, cardboard boxes and some of those in caskets don't have vaults," said Grinder.
West Tennessee is the worst. Many-Bears Grinder says the West Tennessee graves are sinking at an alarming rate in part because of the soil and weather. And the number of veterans' graves in Memphis, more than 14 thousand, is double the number at the other veterans' cemeteries in the state.
The commissioner says the sinking graves are costing the state 216 thousand dollars a year to repair the graves. Now there is a proposal on the table to outsource the maintenance of veterans' cemeteries in the state. It could mean possible job loss for maintenance workers.
It is just a proposal to outsource the maintenance of the veterans' cemeteries. And if it happens the commissioner says the workers will get help finding another job.