SpongeBob Headstone for Iraq Vet Banned by CemeteryBy: Erika Watts - October 22, 2013
A family is battling a cemetery after they were forced to remove a previously approved headstone for Kimberly Walker, an Iraq War veteran. The headstone, which is 7 feet high, is a smiling SpongeBob in an Army uniform. Spring Grove Cemetery in Cincinnati said that they decided the headstone was inappropriate. The family of Kimberly Walker also had to remove a near-duplicate headstone that was set up for Walker’s living sister.
“We’ve decided that [the headstones] aren’t appropriate for our historic cemetery and they can’t be displayed here,” cemetery President Gary Freytag said. Freytag also said that the SpongeBob headstones were approved in error and that they didn’t fit in with the cemetery’s stately appearance.
Walker’s family is furious with the cemetery’s decision to remove the SpongeBob headstones. “They had no compassion for what we were going through,” said Walker’s mother, Deborah Walker. Kimberly Walker served two tours in Iraq and was found strangled and beaten to death this past February. The family had just gotten the headstones erected earlier this month when they were told they had to be removed.
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The cemetery has offered to reimburse the family, who prepaid $29,000 for their six plots in Spring Grove Cemetery, for each of the headstones as well as pay for new ones.
“I feel terrible that it got to this point but I’m hoping we can come out at the other end of the tunnel with a solution,” Freytag said. Freytag said a possible solution to the issue may include using a more traditional gravestone with a small likeness of SpongeBob.
The family doesn’t want new headstones, though–they want the other SpongeBob headstones back. Walker’s twin sister Kara Walker says that the lack of respect the cemetery showed by forcing them to take down the SpongeBob headstones is very frustrating.
“They already brought enough grief and pain to the family,” she said. “We want what we paid for and what I know my sister would have wanted.” SpongeBob was Kimberly Walker’s favorite cartoon. “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,” Kara added.