Veterans Refuse to Remove Flags

A decision to remove flags from some gravesites that WTOC told you about in an earlier report--today is proving to be an unpopular idea with many people. Forest Lawn Memory Gardens, located off Bonaventure Road, ordered people to remove the American flags from their loved ones' grave sites.

Forest Lawn recently sent out a letter telling people to remove their flags and flag poles, now some veterans are refusing.

"I own that property and [the] pole here is on our property," said Lloyd Ginn, an Army veteran.

But according to the letter from Forest Lawn, that pole has to come down, something veterans are furious about.

"I think I should be able to fly a flag over my grave," said Ginn.

And so do other veterans who came here after they got the letter. They say they have every right to keep their flag poles on the gravesite they paid for.

"If they move that flag pole, they got to get permission from the owner, because I have a deed to my lot and whatever I want to do there in mine," said John Thompson, an Air Force veteran.

We spoke with Forest Lawn. They say they don't oppose flying the American flag at all. As a matter of fact, they give out small flags on sticks for free, but the poles they say have to come down.

"Many of them have just showed up, notice we didn't say it's okay, they just showed up," said manager Bill Braswell. "We come in on Monday morning, there'll be one or two just sprung up over the weekend."

Braswell also says many of the flags on poles are not cared for properly and they often get in the way of other burial ceremonies.

But veterans say that's no excuse to have to remove what they feel is rightfully theirs. "I think we deserve it, all veterans deserve to fly a flag over their dead body," said Ginn. "That's the way I feel about it and the man who don't approve of it, there's something wrong with him."

Forest Lawn says it's sticking to its April 15 deadline for people to remove flag poles. But the veterans say they will not budge with their decision.

Reported by: Nicole Teigen, nteigen@wtoc.com