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Residents shocked over grave markings in Arlington Cemetery

POSTED: August 9, 2010 12:03 a.m.

As Arlington National Cemetery comes under fire for unmarked and mismarked graves, local residents with loved ones buried at the Virginia site are left in awe.

"I thought it was really well kept so, this is amazing that we have come up with this," said Mary Evans of Banks County. "It's kind of hard to believe."

The cemetery still uses index cards to identify graves, and possibly up to 6,600 graves are estimated to be incorrectly marked.

Evans' daughter, Frances Lily Cline, and Cline's father, Staff Sgt. David H. Cline are both buried in the cemetery, which was established in 1864 and contains more than 330,000 graves.

Evans hasn't found out yet whether her family was involved in the cemetery's error, but she hopes to know soon.

"It makes you feel bad if it wasn't right," she said.

It took about a week for Gainesville resident Carla Claymore to get confirmation that the graves of her parents were correctly identified. Though her parents' section of the cemetery wasn't mentioned in original reports of the incident, she wanted to confirm.

"I felt that it was my responsibility to make sure that they were taken care of at their death," Claymore said.

"I felt badly about (the possibility of a mistake)."

Claymore's father, Col. Donald C. McNair, and mother, Elizabeth Porter McNair, are both buried in the cemetery, and Claymore said she used to visit frequently when she lived closer to the site.

She said she was shocked Arlington would be a part of such a "tragic national error."

"It's always been supposedly the premier of the national cemeteries," she said. "And our experience with it during the time of burial ... was just precision."

Gainesville's Sarah Thomas also was surprised.

"I just hope the people who are having problems get it sorted out as quickly as possible," she said.

Though her parents - Bruce Kahle Gross Sr. and Ruby Frances Gross - also were not affected by the mismarked graves, she still can't believe the issue would come up.

She said employees at Arlington will often get upset if visitors get lost on their way to find a loved one's grave, thinking they haven't done their job correctly, so Thomas questions how the mismarkings could have occurred.

"I think it's horrible," she said. "I think it's careless, very careless."

 



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