Memorial Day flags, flowers left in piles and tossed in dumpster at Bixby cemetery

Memorial Day flags, flowers left in piles and tossed in dumpster at Bixby cemetery (KTUL)

BIXBY, Okla. (KTUL) -- Folks in Bixby are calling recent actions by lawn care workers at a cemetery in town unpatriotic.

Those workers removed American flags and flowers from graves and left them in piles on the ground.

A city ordinance says decorations must be removed from graves at Bixby cemetery five days after a holiday.

But three women say the bigger issue here isn’t that the flags and flowers were removed, but rather how it was done.

Along South Kingston Avenue in Bixby, people stop to pay their respects to those they’ve lost. But three women feel their loved ones are being disrespected.

“I have been in tears," said Noelle Waller.

Waller snapped a picture this morning of flags and flowers in a dumpster at the cemetery. The decorations were placed at grave sites on Memorial Day a week ago.

“My father was a veteran, my grandfather, my great grandfather; I just can’t stand for this," said Waller.

Julia Gallagher snapped more photos over the weekend of the flowers and flags in a pile before being placed in the dumpster.

A sight she says was instantly hurtful for her being the daughter of Purple Heart recipient Marine Sgt. Edward Gallagher.

“My father served in World War II in Iwo Jima," said Gallagher.

While signs on cemetery property do say how long holiday decorations can stay, all three woman say they don’t remember seeing them and frankly they don’t agree the decorations should even be removed so fast or at all.

“I just don’t want to see anybody treat our flag that way," said Kelly Bates Laster.

The women say Boy Scouts from Troop 117 left the flags last week but were not told they would be removed.

It’s a situation the three hope in the future can be handled better when a holiday rolls around.

“Them on the ground was not OK, that was beyond not OK," said Waller.

The women were able to save some of the flags from the dumpster. Since the flags can’t be used again, they plan on returning them to the Boy Scout troop to be retired.

Bixby City Manager Jared Cottle released a statement to Tulsa's Channel 8 apologizing for how cleanup was handled.

Mowing of the Bixby Cemetery is performed by a third-party contractor. It includes removal and disposal of decorations left in place longer than permitted by city code. Unfortunately, this year, the flags that were included as part of some Memorial Day displays were not taken down in accordance with accepted practices for removing American flag decorations. The contractor has apologized for this error and agreed to gather all of the flags improperly handled and deliver them to the VFW for proper treatment. We apologize for the issue, and want to assure all citizens that no disrespect to the flag or to any of our service men or women was intended.
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