VFW Commander reports on disrepair of Veterans’ grave markers

By Zach Jensen,

The 2,865 Veterans’ graves in Winneshiek County’s 47 cemeteries are being neglected. VFW Post #1977 Commander Ray Koshatka reported to the Winneshiek County Board of Supervisors on Monday that many passed Veterans’ brass flag holders and grave markers are brittle and falling apart and need to be replaced.

“It’s supposed to be up to the family to get them, but some of these never had them, and some are from the Civil War,” Koshatka said. “A lot of the markers … are in bad, bad shape. You try to scrape them, and they break off. They’re old, they’re brittle.”

VFW Treasurer Mark Stockdale reported that in the county, there are more than 100 Veterans’ graves that are unmarked or missing brass plaques.

“We’ve been out here before and fought about this and tried to get flag markers for the graves, and we always get shot down,” Koshatka added. “They wanted to buy us plastic ones, and my answer to that was ‘If that’s what you think of your Veteran, to buy a plastic marker to put over his grave, you don’t think too much of your Veterans.’ I get upset about that.”

When asked how much the brass grave markers cost, Koshatka said they were $50 each. Because of the cost, Koshatka recommended that the supervisors use general fund money, left over at the end of each year, to buy a bunch of the markers and authorize the VFW to install them. 

Kelsay suggested that the VFW contact Gemini, Inc. of Decorah to see if they’re able to make the needed markers, which might lower the cost, because the markers would be produced by a local company. Koshatka said he’d do that. 

Full article in the June 13 Public Opinion newspaper.

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