If you serve this country, as the late Army Sgt. Kimberly Walker did in Iraq for two tours, shouldn't you be allowed to have whatever gravestone you want — even if it is SpongeBob Squarepants? That's the question at the center of a battle at the Spring Grove Cemetery in Cincinnati, Ohio. Walker was buried at Spring Grove on October 10 — she did not die in combat, she was allegedly killed by her boyfriend.
Walker, who was 28 when she died, loved SpongeBob (she watched it growing up), and her family, according to CNN, got the all-clear from the cemetery and spent $26,000 on two 6-foot-tall, 7,000-lb. SpongeBob gravestones. One was dressed in Walker's uniform, the other was dressed in her twin sister's Navy uniform. The monuments were removed a day later, because the cemetery's owner said it didn't fit within the guidelines. The cemetery's president told CNN:
"The family chose a design with the guidance of a Spring Grove employee who unfortunately made an error in judgment. The monument does not fit within Spring Grove Cemetery guidelines, was not approved by senior management and cannot remain here."
The matter is being settled in a meeting today — the cemetery has offered to reimburse the Walkers for the statues they bought, while Walker's sister, Kara, told the Associated Press that the family wants to be reimbursed six pre-paid plots.
The bigger question, more symbolic question though, turns into a conversation of respecting our veterans. The Walkers weren't doing this for fun or to disrespectfully troll the cemetery, they were trying to honor their daughter (if Walker were a fan of Norse mythology, she'd be able to get the Hammer of Thor on her headstone or marker, but that might be neither here nor there). And we are constantly reminded and appreciate the men and women, like Walker, who are serving our country to allow is to have our freedoms.
"My sister served our country and most people try to accommodate veterans and try to take care of them," Kara Walker said. "For them not to accommodate and respect what my sister sacrificed, not only for my family, but for everyone else in this country, really bothers me."