Joliet cemetery apologizes after removing loved ones’ decorations from graves

JOLIET, Ill. -- Elmhurst Cemetery's fall cleanup effort garnered criticism after they removed flowers and other items placed on graves.

Families are angry over the way mementos important to the families were tossed out.

Families who visited over Veterans Day weekend said they were shocked when some of the items removed included markers on the graves of veterans. Loved ones posted photos of flowers, flags and mementos that were tossed near a storage shed on the cemetery's Facebook page.

Michelle Allcut said all that was left of a memorial that stoof next to the grave of her brother for the last 18 years was a plaster of Paris figure of a little baseball player with a bat in hand. Her brother died in 1955. and the statue was placed there by their departed mother.

One family said they went to visit their son's grave and found that everything was missing except the stone. They found some of their son's items that were tossed with all the other items near a storage shed. The family alleges that the cemetery changed their rules without warning. In response to this post and others, Elmhurst Cemetery posted their new rules along with their apology.

"While the criticism is hard to read, it's better to have people who care about the cemetery versus not caring at all. First, please accept our heartfelt and sincere apologies for any distress we may have caused you. It was certainly not our intention to upset anyone and our staff feels badly that we have disappointed you," the cemetery wrote in their apology.

In the apology, Elmhurst's new cemetery rules read in bold: "Trinkets, glass vases, candles, shepherds hooks, decorative stones, or border edgings are prohibited and will be removed by cemetery personnel."

Elmhurst Cemetery said the cleanup process actually started a month ago, but they did not have contact information for everyone who visited the cemetery. They say a large sign with the new cemetery rules was posted in June.

Families who want to retrieve their lost items are asked to visit the cemetery office within the next week.

Michelle and her daughter Amanda believe the situation cold have been handled better.

"The pile was all broken stuff. They didn't take care to remove stuff and it breaks your heart," Michelle said.

"That's what has us the most hurt. For 18 years these statutes could stay but then all of a sudden the statues had to be removed. And we didn't know that," Amanda said.