Mineral Wells City Council To Revisit Gravestone Ordinance Amid Backlash
MINERAL WELLS (CBSDFW.COM) – During the week of Independence Day, family members of veterans buried at the Woodland Park Cemetery are still lamenting a city ordinance that limits the dates they can place an American flag alongside their loved one’s headstone.
Despite the ruling, small flags line the graveyard –– they’ve become the center of controversy here, which has prompted the City Council to revisit its ruling.
“It infuriates me,” said Army Veteran Jason Thompson. “There is nobody that is going to get in between me and that flag.”
According to the ordinance, which was passed on June 19, flags can only be displayed at graves for the immediate week before and after Memorial Day and Veterans Day. Independence Day was not exempt.
Backlash from residents has prompted the City Council to hold a public meeting at 6:30 p.m. on July 10 to revisit the regulations.
In addition to flags, the new rules also mean no teddy bears or statues after three weeks of burial. Flowers not placed in vases are also not allowed.
“We are a small community there is no reason that a flag shouldn’t be flown for them day or night,” Thompson said, pointing to his grandfather’s grave. “He served in World War II and the United States Navy.”
The city’s Cemetery Board, which is made up of volunteers, took its recommendations to council, which voted to enact the ordinance.
“We had a number of concerns, a number of complaints, about over adornment, if you will, in our cemetery,” said Mineral Wells City Manager Lance Howerton.
He said the board felt that some of the decorations at the graves were excessive, But he also said he felt the Cemetery Board did its best to cater to veteran concerns before submitting its recommendations.
“On our Cemetery Board, there are some relatives of veterans that tried to the best they could in the situation,” Howerton said.
Meanwhile, Vietnam Veteran Jim Vines thinks there is a solution; he points to an aluminum item that would raise the flag above the ground.
“It would fit right behind the stone in the ground and the flag fits,” he said. “It’s to protect the stick from weed eating so it doesn’t break.”
Mineral Wells isn’t the first city to enact something like this. Even the National Cemetery in Arlington, Va. only allows flags on Memorial Day.
But that makes no difference for veterans like Thompson and Vines.
“They are a national museum we are not this is our national museum,” says Thompson.
“This is a community which is heavy based with veterans that have passed and many more who unfortunately will pass away,” Vines said. “We need to honor them every single day of year,” says Vines, who is also the Commander of AmVets a support group for veterans.
Thompson is now behind a Facebook page titled Keep the American Flags In Our Cemetery, which has close to 1,300 members.