Following complaints of stray cows defiling the graves at the Veterans Cemetery in Marpi, the Veterans Affairs Office had a temporary fence made of mesh and plywood installed surrounding the cemetery to keep the cows away for the moment.
According to VAO executive officer Stanley T. Iakopo, the graves of veterans and their loved ones’ graves at the Veterans Cemetery are now secured with a mesh-type fence with plywood. This temporary fence is about 200 feet long by 100 feet wide and and has only one point of entry for families to enter and visit their loved ones. A permanent fence will later be installed. The temporary fence was installed by RNV Construction.
The Veterans Cemetery contains the graves of approximately 100 veterans and their loved ones.
Iakopo said both temporary and permanent fences are funded by the Office of the Governor and adds approximately less than $10,000 to the overall expenditures for the expansion of the cemetery.
“It’s an issue that has been chronically ongoing and it’s about cows desecrating sacred grounds,” said Iakopo. “There is no logical explanation to justify the desecration of our dear veterans that fought [and] defended the freedom that you and I have now. This issue is still going on and I don’t understand,” he said.
Iakopo says that having cow manure on a grave is highly disrespectful, considering that the veterans who are buried at the cemetery fought and sacrificed so much.
“Yes, I take full responsibility for this, and I think society tends to forget our veterans, but we are not going to forget our veterans,” said Iakopo. “I’m not pointing fingers. I’m just addressing the issue that has been long, long overdue.”
Two weeks ago, on June 25, VAO, the Marianas Visitors Authority, the Department of Public Lands, and the Department of Parks and Recreation had a meeting with ranchers at the DPL building in Dandan regarding the cows violating the graves and possible solutions to keep the cows out.