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Citing Increased Violations, Idaho Veterans Cemetery Officials Close Nearby Trail

"The Veterans Cemetery is the final resting place for the men and women who have served our country with honor, and it is our responsibility to maintain the dignity of the cemetery property and surrounding area."

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In May 2011, Boise Weekly reported about increasing instances of disrespect at the Idaho State Veterans Cemetery, which is the final resting place of more than 3,000 heroes.

"Unfortunately, we have had people use the grounds for flag-football practice," said Zach Rodriguez, cemetery director. "I've seen groups bring in barbecue grills to picnic on our upper level. They even lit fireworks up there."

The most disturbing violations occur when a bicyclist, dog walker or sports enthusiast breezes by one of the many burials that occur at the cemetery. Thirteen interments were held at the cemetery last week. Rodriguez said he averaged two to three burials a day. Some months may have as many as 55 interments.

"When a ceremony is taking place and somebody is riding by with their music going, I can't take that moment back," he said. "I can never give back to a family that final moment with their loved one. Never."

And now, officials say they have decided to temporarily close Veterans Trail adjacent to the cemetery.

"We did not want to close the trail, and the decision was not made lightly," wrote cemetery spokesperson Patti Murphy, "But it was necessary to do, at least until we find a solution to the continued misuse of the trail and related disrespect to the cemetery."

Murphy wrote that despite installing clearly marked signage, a trail camera (which has been vandalized), and making personal contact with offenders, cemetery officials continue to see infractions.

"The Idaho Veterans Cemetery would like to reopen the trail in the future and we understand that educating users about trail use will likely be an ongoing process," wrote Murphy. "The Veterans Cemetery is the final resting place for the men and women who have served our country with honor, and it is our responsibility to maintain the dignity of the cemetery property and surrounding area."

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