War hero's headstone and others discarded like trash; AG's office investigating
BATON ROUGE- The Attorney General's office is investigating a number of headstones that were discarded like trash underneath the Mississippi River Bridge in Baton Rouge.
At least one of the discarded grave markers is from Port Hudson National Cemetery and memorializes a soldier who died in 1967. It is found among the rocks that are dumped along the banks of the Mississippi River to prevent erosion.
"Friday night, my son and I were bike riding and brought him under the bridge to show him the old houses that used to be here before the bridge," Floyd Desormeaux said. "We stumbled across the tombstones. It struck me as disrespectful."
Sonny Peppers is the Louisiana National Cemetery Director. He said they will go out and retrieve the grave marker this week. It will be properly destroyed.
"In no way, shape or form should a civilian go out and find these headstones just randomly thrown around," Peppers said. "That's not what I'm saying happened, but it can be perceived as that."
Peppers said when grave markers are replaced there were strict guidelines to follow.
"We obliterate the inscription, to obliterate the inscription by as many means a possible, a stone crusher or sledgehammer," Peppers said.
Peppers said since 1973, guidelines have been in place by the National Cemetery Association on how to deal with damaged or old headstones.
"As far as the markers having to be replaced, it's usually only during an interment that we can do that," Peppers said. "We will destroy the headstone that was there previously and will mark it with a new headstone. As far as finding them randomly as is with this case, it's a rare occurrence."
The AG's office did not give a time frame on how long their investigation could take.
Desormeaux said he's pleased that quick action was taken.
"I understand why they are here to help with the erosion, just seems there should be something more respectful than dumping them in a trash bin," Desormeaux said.