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Mourners Banned From Leaving Christmas Trees, Presents At Soldiers’ Graves

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RIVERSIDE (CBS) — Mourners at Riverside National Cemetery try to “share” Christmas with their loved ones buried there.

But, for practical and aesthetic reasons, they are not allowed to bring trees, balloons or many other celebratory items and leave them on graves.

That policy has been in place for years, but CBS2’s Greg Mills reports, one that has not been enforced.

That is, until a new manager took over this year. Many mourners are ignoring the signs that dictate what items can and can’t be placed on graves, including a family he spoke with Wednesday.

About the only thing on the approved list, flowers.

The Henderson family is not bringing items on the not-approved list just to be defiant, reports Mills,  it’s just the only way they feel they can “celebrate” Christmas with their husband/father who died six months ago today.

Algiovanta Henderson was a Staff Sergeant in the US Army.

The notes and Merry Christmas balloon brought by his daughters, Joslyn and Arianna, off-limits.

Says Henderson, “That means everything to us. That’s the only thing we can give him. We can’t buy presents anymore.”

His widow, Jennifer, and the couple’s two daughters visit his grave once a week.

Jim Ruester explains the cemetery’s newly-enforced policy on the personal items. “There’s a lot of food left on grave sites. Alcoholic beverages. Grandpa’s favorite whiskey.”

After the removal of many items — many hand crafted and meticulously made  — Ruester acknowledges he has heard from many irate people who think the policy is a little heartless, to say the least. Especially at Christmas and the holiday season.

“There has been lots of name-calling,” he tells Mills.

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