MONROE, NC (FOX 46 WJZY) - Jim Pueschel, a Vietnam veteran and member of the Marine Corps League, spent his morning going through the trash.
“No gloves, we just went through it and if it was a flag we rescued her,” Pueschel said.
He pulled out American flags which he said were yanked off graves at Lakeland Memorial Park, a cemetery in Monroe, and thrown in the trash.
“Everybody was dying for this flag and they throw it in a dumpster," he said. “It's just trash to them. That is not trash. When you look at the flags, all these guys died for protecting this flag.”
That wasn't the only thing dumped. Families found angels, flowers and other keepsakes missing from graves piled up on tarps behind the cemetery next to the dumpster. Some items were found broken.
“It's only been a few years since we lost my mom, and I can't replace something that belonged to her. I can't go to the store and buy a new one. There's not a new one, so I feel as though they have violated our family's peace,” Amanda Kurtz said.
Families said they were never told by cemetery officials that their items would be moved. They were left empty and broken, upset over the way their loved ones were treated.
“They're supposed to rest in peace there, and this doesn't say that.”
Pueschel said he's going to properly retire those American flags he rescued from the trash.
Lakeland Memorial Park sent FOX 46 Charlotte a statement saying they are addressing families' concerns, but they did not specify why any of this was done in the first place, or how they notified families before the items were removed from the graves.
Below is the full statement from Lakeland Memorial Park:
"We are committed to providing all families with a well-maintained environment for visitation and remembrance. We are addressing the concerns our client families have brought to our attention. We value the relationships we have with our client families and encourage anyone with concerns to contact us directly."