Linda Forbes comes to Raleigh National Cemetary to see her brother who died during the Vietnam War. His headstone, along with other veterans' headstones, is chipped and caked with mud.
"Whoever comes in here and takes care of this cemetery must not realize who's buried here. I mean these are real heroes," she said. "It is supposed to be perfect. National cemeteries are supposed to be perfect, perfect alignment. It is a lack of respect."
Forbes said she documented the deterioration of the cemetery and of her brother's headstone. She also has pictures of an American cemetery in England.
"Every blade of grass is in place it seems. It's just absolutely gorgeous there," she said.
The man who oversees the cemetery lives in Salisbury. He admits there have been problems in Raleigh. He blames many of those problems on the crew that was contracted to take care of the grounds. He has since let that contact expire and he is now looking for new help. He also said he has begun an aggressive program to improve conditions at the cemetery.
"I just cannot imagine why they would let it get in this condition," Forbes said.
The overseer of the grounds said he believes that in time the cemetery will again appear as a national shrine, the way it was meant to be. But until that time, Forbes said she will not rest.
"I just want everybody to have the honor and respect they deserve," she said.
In the coming months, the caretaker of the cemetery plans to realign the headstones, replace those that are chipped and damaged and spruce up the grounds.
Burial benefits for eligible veterans and their family members include a gravesite in one of 120 national cemeteries along with perpetual care. More than 2 million Americans, including veterans from the Revolutionary War, are buried in national cemeteries.
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