A policy banning tributes on graves at Arlington National Cemetery is now being enforced and many families of those that lost loved ones in war are hurt by the action.
Mail Online reports that headstones have been stripped of photos, drawings and notes, in particular those in Section 60, home to the graves of more than 800 service members killed while doing their duty in Iraq and Afghanistan.
New photographs show the graves lying bare, many with just outlines of where pictures and letters were once taped to the marble surface.
The changes began in August when cemetery officials decided that Section 60 should be subject to the same rules as the rest of the grounds. “The policy hasn’t changed,” said Jennifer Lynch, a spokeswoman for the cemetery, according to The Washington Post. “The policy is the same, but the enforcement is different.” She said the cemetery was responding to complaints that the section had become too disorderly.
Elizabeth Belle was heading toward the grave of her son with a bag full of miniature pumpkins, silk leaves and other decorations for his headstone when she noticed the changes.
“They’ve taken everything,” Belle said
One mother, whose son was killed in Iraq in 2005, recently left small glass hearts on the graves of her son and several other soldiers. Everything had been taken away when she returned to the cemetery a day later.
“I cried. It was like no one cared anymore,” Teresa Arciola said, according to The Washington Post.
More than 400,000 fallen members of the U.S. military lie across Arlington's 612 acres.