Brandon cemetery clean up shocks some over discarded memories

BRANDON, Fla. (WFLA) – Angela Rudisill’s grandfather, grandmother and mother are all buried at Hillsboro Memorial Cemetery in Brandon.

On a bench to memorialize her mother, Rudisill has placed a number of small mementos to honer her memory, but on a recent visit, she noticed similar items were being removed from other grave markers. 

“I thought it was horrible. I thought it was disrespectful. I thought it was immoral. I thought it was desecrating graves, basically,” said Rudisill.

The items may not look like much, but to some, they are cherished memories of a loved one.

“Little knick knacks, angels, cherubs, solar lights, wind chimes, windmills, the little pin wheels,” said Rudisill.

For her, the sight of the removed items in a large pile was even more shocking, because of the graves they were taken from.

“The majority of the stuff was moved, unfortunately, off of baby graves,” said Rudisill.

Signs at the entrance of the cemetery advises visitors a clean up is underway.

“That was the first time I saw those signs,” said Rudisill.

A spokesman for the cemetery issued a statement on the removal of the items.

“We certainly empathize with grieving families who wish to add personal items to the graves of their loved ones. However, certain grave decorations may present safety hazards to our grounds workers and visitors to the park. Wooden, glass, metal or plastic parts can easily become airborne and dangerous.

We have an obligation to all the families we serve and their loved ones who are interred at our cemetery to maintain a consistent standard of appearance, as well as safety in or around gravesites. We post signs regularly to make all of our visitors aware of the removals so families have ample time to remove any items they wish to keep, and we keep all removed items at the cemetery for a reasonable period so that any family who wishes to retrieve an item has the opportunity to do so. It was never our intention to upset or offend any client family,” said a spokesperson for company representing Hillsboro Memorial Cemetery.

The spokesperson said the items will be held for 60 days before they are discarded.

Rudisill doesn’t believe that’s enough time for people who live out of state to collect the things that are special to them.

“It means something to somebody,” said Rudisill.

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