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Homeowner apologizes for using discarded military headstones for patio

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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – A homeowner in Missouri is now apologizing for using military headstones to build a patio.

The stones had been discarded in a dump, the homeowner said.  A Navy veteran found out about it and posted pictures of it on social media.  That created an outcry to get the stones removed, WHNT reported.

KSPR reports the Department of Veterans Affairs is investigating, and the homeowner said he has no idea this is a federal crime.  He is now apologizing.

“I took advantage of something that shouldn’t have been taken advantage of,” he said. “Free scraps stolen to make a small patio out of. Okay… I just used them… It’s all I had. That’s it.”

The homeowner says nearly a decade ago, he got the headstones from a now defunct monument company.  He says he used the headstones to make a patio for his mom who fell.

“I was just making something out of nothing.  Ninety percent of them are broken — they were never in a cemetery.  They went from the monument to the landfill. There were mistakes. I didn’t know.”

The gravestones caught the eye of a realtor who told Navy veteran Ed Harkreader.  He, along with an Ozark County deputy took KSPR down to the property.

“These represent a solider, a sailor, airman, someone who served our county and died. They aren’t here to take care of a situation we found out about and it’s up to somebody else to pick up the slack,” said Harkreader.

The homeowner says he didn’t think what he was doing could be offensive to some.  He first said the gravestones would be staying.

“I can’t move them. Obviously… I can’t move them. I am sorry,” he previously said.

“If he needs help, we will be happy to get the Patriot Guard out here with a dump truck and we will load the stones and get them out of here,” Harkreader said.

The homeowner did change his mind and admits making a mistake.

“I ain’t blaming nobody for nothing but me. I took them out of the landfill,” he said.

There are close to 150 headstones on the patio.

The business where the homeowner says the gravestones were originally made says the stones were rejected from the government and discarded.

6 comments

  • B H San Diego

    My personal opinion is that this is okay. The headstones were rejected by the government (I guess there were mistakes in the engraving or other quality problems?) and dumped in a landfill. If one of those had my father’s name and rank, etc, on it – I’d rather know it’s being used on someone’s patio than sitting in a landfill with trash. If he had taken them from a cemetery, that would be an outrage but nobody is accusing him of that.

    • Christa

      I completely agree! Their memory is being used to help make a nice patio for an older woman rather than ending up in a dump. He made them beautiful and gave them purpose!

  • Rob

    his mistake was laying them right side up if he’d put the text side down no one would probably have been any the wiser. I can see why the question needed to be asked but see no harm in what he did beeter to keep the stone out of the landfill and I’m sure there was no malice meant.

  • B H

    To me it seems to be showing respect for and appreciation of the service members’ ultimate sacrifice for our country. Putting those in a landfill is a disgrace. Honoring them as your patio to me is cool. If I had that patio I’d look at the headstones while having my coffee and say, “Thank you” to all of them.

  • Patriot

    at first this sounded wrong. But then after reading this story I am concerned… The stones go back to the landfill? Those names will be left out with garbage?
    What a memorial tribute to a man making something from rejected pieces and bringing them to life again. Anyone who goes to this woman’s patio will leave better for it to read some of those names. I say, it should stay.

  • Nikki Anello

    So once this Harkreader guy and Patriot Gaurd come with there dumptruck… what do they plan on doing with the stones? Putting them back in another landfill?? I just don’t understand how re-using these would be disrespectful!! People need to mind there own business!!

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