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Vet's family, cemetery at odds over Xmas tree

December 19, 2011 12:00:00 AM PST
Every Sunday, the Bromfield family has arrived at the Riverside National Cemetery to visit the grave of Army Spc. Travis Bromfield.

Bromfield served in Iraq and died of cancer four years ago.

Every December, Terry Bromfield has placed a four-foot high Christmas tree out here for his son.

"Travis and I used to decorate the front of our house every year? and we just felt it was right to continue to decorate for him," Bromfield said.

On Sunday, the family said they were informed that they would no longer be able to decorate with a Christmas tree.

"We had the tree almost completely up, and a security guard came and stopped and he goes, 'Trees aren't allowed," said Bromfield's stepmother, Esther Bromfield.

Administrators say their policy is spelled out clearly in their brochure. It says that during the holiday season, fresh cut flowers and wreathes up to 18 inches are allowed, but that's it.

"We're just trying to maintain the dignity of this national shrine," said Dean Moline, director of the Riverside National Cemetery.

Moline says the policy is there for a reason.

"We have a lot of people placing food and beer cans and open bottles at burial sites," he said. "We remove those."

Still, the Bromfield family feels that not being allowed to put up a tree is disrespectful.

"I don't see what the harm is," Terry Bromfield said. "It's not damaging the grass, it's not damaging anything. But if it's bringing comfort to the families, what's so wrong with it?"

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