Contrary to what you may think, cemeteries and their markers do not last forever. It is for that reason that it is imperative that we work to canvass, transcribe, and preserve cemetery stones and documents for posterity.
The impermanence of cemetery markers has become abundantly clear to me in the more than four decades that I have been involved in genealogy. I was shockingly reminded of this truth when I read a disturbing new article in The Tampa Tribune on 27 May 2008, titled "Vandals Wreak Havoc at Cemetery." The Serenity Meadows Memorial Park and neighboring Hackney Cemetery in Riverside, Florida, were vandalized the previous evening. More than 22 grave markers were pushed over, destroyed, or significantly damaged. Sheriff's office investigators have estimated the damages at more than $50,000. This is not the first instance of vandalism or theft at Serenity Meadows. This time, however, a surveillance video camera captured the perpetrators in action inside the cemetery. Within hours, two teenagers (ages 14 and 15) were tracked to the home of one of the boys. They were taken into custody and brought to a juvenile detention center. They told the deputies that they vandalized the cemetery for fun.
Cemetery vandalism is not uncommon.
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