Cemetery continues to struggle with vandalism - wave3.com-Louisville News, Weather & Sports

Cemetery continues to struggle with vandalism

Amy Wright Amy Wright
Sharron Comstock Sharron Comstock
Harry Comstock Harry Comstock
Philip DiBlasi Philip DiBlasi

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Imagine burying your loved one and the cemetery isn't what it used to look like. For anyone who visits Eastern Cemetery off Baxter Avenue, it can be pretty heartbreaking. People who were born in the 1800s are buried there. It's the final resting place to more than 140,000 people. For years, Eastern has been struggling with vandalism.

"History really brought us," said Amy Wright, a Louisville resident. "We've never been and there are a lot people here who have made an impact on Louisville."

Wright's first visit to Eastern Cemetery was over the weekend and it wasn't what she was expecting.

"At first glance I was sad," said Wright. "A little despairing. It's winter and I know bad weather things can happen tree limbs can fall but, it seems like things have been like this for a while."

Countless headstones are over turned and downed trees. It is nothing new to people like Sharron and Harry Comstock. They've been coming here to visit Harry's parents.

"You look around, nobody cares," said Sharron Comstock. "We put flowers on them because we care we miss them."

The Comstock's noticed the change in the 70s.

"It makes tears come to your eyes," said Comstock.

Philip DiBlasi is a staff archaeologist at the University of Louisville. A whole room in his office building is full of records and books from Eastern. He also stores some of cremated remains that he was able to recover since vandals were dumping ashes and stealing the metal containers. DiBlasi said there isn't one sole person responsible for the cemetery now. It's in the hands of several agencies, like DiBlasi keeping records, and Dismas Charities overseeing the grounds, as well as the Attorney General's office. Despite their efforts to keep the cemetery in the best condition they can vandals just seem to get ahead of them.

"To vandalize someone's grave is the ultimate indignity you can do," said DiBlasi.

Despite what the cemetery looks now, DiBlasi said it's actually gotten a lot better. A veterans group has been coming out and covered up some of the graffiti with art.

"The history of Louisville is written on those headstones that people are tossing over...we don't need to be doing that," said DiBlasi.

"It's sad to see that someone who has been loved, who has made a memory in some sense abandoned," said Wright.

According to DiBlasi, putting the headstones back up can cost $200 each. He said having the area heavily gated and chained would help with the vandalism, but added what the cemetery needs is a real long term plan and funding.

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