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If you want to get a peek into how US tax dollars are at work, we just received a letter (scan) from the Department of Veterans Affairs expressing "deep concerns" about the Waymarking process - specifically the category "Medal of Honor Resting Places". I have drafted a response to the letter (scan) with hopes that it will alleviate his concerns.

 

I scanned a draft. There were some grammatical errors that were fixed in the final draft, but didn't want to rescan the document.

 

Why this kind of image is offensive is beyond me:

 

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Thank goodness for the 1st Amendment.

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I'm curious by your statement. If someone leaves a stuffed animal on their child's grave, is that in poor taste?

 

Additionally, I respect your opinion even if I don't agree with it. Do you respect mine?

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Jeremy,

 

You are entitled to your opinion and I will fight to the death for you to be able to express it. From your letter to Mr. Muro I think you are sincere in your beliefs.

 

However, many of us were raised in different cultural environments with different beliefs as to what is and is not proper respect for the departed. I have no problem with flowers on graves. Some others object to anything but religious symbols. Others may have no problem with teddy bears and other warm fuzzies.

 

I think this is an area it is best to error on the side of caution since many people are offended by seeing various things on what they consider sacred ground.

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  I'm sure I am not the only one who noticed the reference in the letter that Jeremy received to Catherine Ceips.

 

  Am I remembering correctly that she's the one behind that bill in South Carolina that seeks to severely restrict Geocaching?

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However, many of us were raised in different cultural environments with different beliefs as to what is and is not proper respect for the departed. I have no problem with flowers on graves. Some others object to anything but religious symbols. Others may have no problem with teddy bears and other warm fuzzies.

So we agree. Different people have different beliefs about how to honor the dead. You may not agree with a GPS unit on a headstone but you defend other opinions on the matter.

 

Now, take off your civillian hat and put on your government representative cap. As a representative of the US government sending a letter to a civillian, do you have a right to offer your own opinion in an official government letterhead? Or do you consider that government bullying? From my experience working for both the government and for the Air Force it was drilled into my head that I was a representative of the government and did not attempt to use my position to offer opinions.

 

I think this is an area it is best to error on the side of caution since many people are offended by seeing various things on what they consider sacred ground.

 

In this case I disagree. Nothing was left at the grave site and I feel that the posting of a grave location in the category is honoring that Medal of Honor recipient. Even if you don't agree you can understand how uncomfortable it is for me to see a representative of the US government using their position of power in this way.

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I can see the point about not LEAVING something on a headstone or gravesite of someone you didn't know, but a picture of a completely innocent item (a GPSr) does no harm and is not in any way disrespectful, in my opinion.

 

Would Mr. Muro have a problem if a family, interested in the history of this site, took a picture of their child next to the headstone? Or if a cacher was standing WITH their "trinket" in hand next to a marker, would that be ok??

 

How is the fact that a cacher takes a picture without a person in it any different?

 

(P.S. if it's undignified to take a picture of someone next to a historical marker/grave per my first examples, then I really worry about our society)

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Thanks for sharing this with us, Jeremy.

 

The waymark I have posted in this category honors the memory of Civil War Medal of Honor recipient Nathaniel C. Barker. I was pleased that I had the opportunity to record the location of this important, but little known memorial so that others might share the positive experience of my own visit.

 

As a matter of personal preference, I did not choose to include a GPSr in any of my photos on the waymark page. I do not, however, find the photos I have seen on other waymarks in this category which do include a GPSr to be offensive or inappropriate, but I respect the opinions of those with different views in this matter, including those expressed by Mr. Muro. I do consider it unfortunate, however, that Mr. Muro chose to express his personal opinion on letterhead which reflects his position as a Director in the Department of Veterans Affairs.

 

Your reply to Mr. Muro was fine.

 

edit: spelling

Edited by cache_test_dummies
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One time while finding a cemetery cache, I kept an eye out for a groundskeeper who was working off in the distance. After reaching the end of a row of hedges where he was trimming and raking, he decided it was time for a break. Using the closest headstone as a convenient bench, he sat down and lit up a cigarette, flicking the ash onto the "hallowed ground." I recall feeling a bit offended by what I saw. I proceeded to find the cache, hidden at the edge of the woods bordering the cemetery. Then, as is my habit, I looked for a few veterans' graves on the way back to my car, and straightened a small flag that had fallen over. Visiting cemeteries gives me the opportunity to reflect on the sacrifices made by those whose headstones list dates twenty years apart. When I see a headstone that touches me in some way, I will sometimes take a picture of it.

 

Perhaps in the future I ought to be taking different pictures during my cemetery visits. :)

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There must be some way to leash Ceips and her manipulative watchdogs. She (and/or her staff) continue to trump up innocent and honorable activities to denegrate and villify us unfairly.

 

I have GPS locations for nearly all of my family that is no longer with us (including military graves for those family members who served). Some day when my future grandchildren want to know about their family (or even when they don't), I'll be able to tell them stories about the ones that I knew and the ones that I heard about and then give them the list of locations and they will be able to spend their own moments with their long gone ancestors. There is nothing wrong with cataloging these things and the only way to be certain of the information is by photograph.

 

If any of my military relatives were to have received or will receive the Medal of Honor and thereby be worthy of a waymark in this category, I'd consider it a reward that not only would their final resting place be known for myself and my family, but that others would also know of their location if they so chose to pay respects.

 

Isn't it the position of the Department of Veteran Affairs that our war veterans are all too often *not* given the respect by the public that they so rightfully deserve? Even if a picture with a GPSr device (whose only purpose is to define global location) were to be considered dishonorable, isn't the reward of bringing that grave to the attention of the rest of the Waymarking public worth far more than the minor impropriety? In other words, doesn't the reward of hundreds of honorable acts of respect solely resulting due to a single, non-permanent, dishonorable act make that act worthwhile in actuality?

 

Unfortunately, I have a feeling that the "evidence" brought to the Director's attention was biased and dishonest given the source to which it has been attributed. I am worried that the Director has been played for a patsy in the South Carolina representative's political games. Namely, this now becomes another feather in their cap when they show another "outraged manager" who is "offended" at our activities in graveyards of the most somber nature...when in actuality it is our level of somber respect that brings us to globally highlight these men of honor who have served our country to the fullest extent possible.

 

We are taking nothing more than a reading of their geographic location and we are leaving more pride and respect for their actions in service to our country than most citizens ever even give a first thought towards. If that is a serious offense and dishonorable act, then somehow I have really gone astray in all that I've ever been taught about honor and dignity.

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Mr. Muro,

 

It would seem that permanently etching Pentagon slogans into our fallen's military gravestones is a tad more dishonorable than the temporary placement and photographing of a geolocator for informational purposes.

 

Pentagon Slogans Placed on Troops' Tombstones - Unlike those of earlier wars, nearly all Arlington National Cemetery gravestones for troops killed in Iraq or Afghanistan are inscribed with the sloganlike operation names the Pentagon selected to promote public support for the conflicts...

 

In fact, even though families are told that they have final approval over the inclusion of the slogans, that has not always happened. One family was interviewed for the article and did not want the slogan on their son's tombstone and it was there regardless.

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I am a vet(Operation Iraqi Freedom) as well as the granddaughter of a vet (OSS in WWII-Burma), daughter of a vet (WWII-Europe, Korea & Vietnam) and the mother of a vet (Kosovo). Knowing my dad, he would think finding a spot useing a GPS as cool and interesting. I know my son does as he geocaches. Stopping, paying respect and then taking a picture of a tombstone does not imply anything more than you want to remember where you've been. I expect that this summer we will take the grandkids to Arlington National Cemetary to see where their grandfathers are buried. From my dad's gravesite, you could see where the plane crashed into the Pentagon.

 

I think the director of VA needs to talk to vets that go looking for these types of sites. Forget the politicans and ask us. No I am not offended if someone finds a vets gravesite and takes a picture to share. I hope they also take a sense of pride in our nation. I hope they pass the picture around and tell their friends and family about this heroic service member. And if there happens to be a GPS or a person or the family dog in the pictures, so what. To me, that shows that you want to include that vet in your life someway.

 

Enough rant.

 

Terri

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It has long been my habit to photograph my ancestor's gravestones to help record my family history. My photographs include ancestors who served our nation from the Revolutionary period to the present. Before GPS technology was available, one shot of each stone was a closeup showing the name of my relative, with a piece of paper and a compass in the view. The paper was titled with the name of the cemetery, and included a rough sketch of the location of the burial within the cemetery. This year, I included a close up showing the viewscreen on my GPS next to the name on the headstone. I provide copies of the photographs to my relatives every year as a Christmas gift. My relatives thank me for being dedicated to this pursuit. I have begun doing the same type of photo-documentation of my husband's family; they have also expressed their deep appreciation for my efforts.

 

Genealogists in my area have been begging people who locate abandoned cemeteries to make the coordinates available online, or to historical associations. So many of our older tombstones in Indiana (and indeed, along the entire east coast of the US) are becoming extremely difficult to read because of natural weathering of native soft stone and due to acid rain reacting with the carbonate stone. To have the image of the stone as well as the exact location is a wonderful method to record the information for posterity. Accurate documentation is of the highest piority to the experienced historian.

 

I would hope that anyone who objected to this practice is merely unaware of the purpose of GPS receivers, and has not yet had the opportunity to appreciate the value of recording this information using this technology. As a science teacher, I can assure anyone concerned that there is no danger to any stone from having a GPS receiver placed on or near the stone for the period of time needed to take a series of photographs. The added value of having the GPS viewscreen visible to document of the location of the stone is just good research procedure. I would encourage waymark vistors to make every attempt to assure that the coordinates are clearly visible in at least one photograph for each location.

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If only the Department of Veterans affairs could worry about providing respect for current veterans who are being interned.

 

Like maybe... I don't know... Having a real bugler to play taps instead of using a tape player.

 

Or reinstating the honor guards who provided the honors instead of sloppy, dressed in too small, 30 year old uniform members of the local auxillary.

 

Then they can worry if placing a GPS on a headstone is disrespectful.

 

Sgt Jim S USAF

Son of Lt Col J S ret. USAF pilot

Husband of Sgt G USAF

Father of Airman S USAF

Father In Law of Sgt M USAF

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First of all, J, GREAT response. With your background you said things that few of the rest of us could have.

 

As the owner of the American Revolutionary War Veteran Grave category I'm a little offended that they don't seem to be able to see past Ms Ceips prejudice and see what we're doing as actually preserving these locations.

 

Maybe I should also mention that the Veterans in my home town are very excited about the possibilities of Waymarking. I've had some of them stop by my office to let me know where some graves are and one who emailed me a complete list of all Revolutionary War Veterans buried in Illinois. When I walk into the local restaurant I often have one or two of them ask how the "Internet project" is coming along.

 

I guess I'm just saying some people aren't that short-sighted. When a guy in his 70's from Hickville, Illinois who never "learned the computer" and doesn't know what a "GSP" does gets excited about something like this I think we're on to something good.

 

Bret

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The first thing I thought of was, did the woman who is against Geocaching actually mention that the GPS in the "offensive" picture was not even left at the gravesite? The omition of key information is a GREAT tactic of the media in general, and is (as I am explaining to my 5 year old) the same thing as lying.

 

I would be MORE offended if there was a picture of the marker with someone's kids laying (playing) over it, and the family dog was lifting his leg on it. Even if it was the deceased family. A simple GPS unit (wasn't that whole technology developed by the military?) taken in the photo shouldn't offend anyone.

 

And I also, (Leprechauns quote) am frequently shocked at the lack of reverence given by those visiting the cemetaries or the workers there. My church's "Family" cemetary has no trees, frequent ant problems (like you can't get to the headstone on which you wish to leave flowers) a dirt road, and nobody seems capable of keeping the bermudagrass from growing over the headstones. People buried there whose families have either (for lack of a better word) died out or have left the area, have no real care given to their site. How sad. I would love to have local Geocachers come in, bend down to read the stone and pull a little grass at the same time.

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Inquisitive geocacher/waymarker that I am, I decided to research the Medal of Honor recipient whose grave is depicted in the photo posted by Jeremy.

 

Andrew P. Forbeck, Seaman, U.S. Navy, was born in 1881 and died in 1924. He received his Medal of Honor for service in the Phillipines Insurrection. His citation reads: "For distinguished conduct in the presence of the enemy during the battle of Katbalogan, Samar, Philippine Islands, 16 July 1900." I did not know very much about this military conflict, so I read a bit more about it here. I was stunned to learn that 4,234 U.S. military personnel gave their lives in service of their country in this conflict. This was of particular interest to me, as I have a very dear friend who is Filipino. It is a complex history to understand.

 

Waymarking and geocaching teach us about such things each and every day.

 

Seaman Forbeck is interred in Erie Cemetery, in Northwest Pennsylvania about 100 miles north of me. I travel there frequently, and will make a point of visiting this waymark the next time I am in the area. This will allow me to directly thank him and his family for his service.

 

I am sorry to stray off-topic, but I believe that the REAL topic is honoring the memory of people like Andrew Forbeck. It is not all about Catherine Ceips or Steve Muro.

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In my search for one medal of honor winner, I found the cemetery he is in, but he has no gravemarker. I considered trying to find the exact spot of his grave and getting a marker for it. Raising money myself etc. All of this in his honor just because of some silly game.......

 

Seems like Waymarking is helping preserve and honor our fallen soldiers graves, not dishonor them.

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Being a Vet I find it appaling that we now have parameters as to how we are to pay our respects to our fallen comrades. We gave so we could have the freedom of speech. Its very ironic that its allowable to burn the flag but not post a picture of our GPS at the gravesite of our fallen comrades.

 

I do hope Mr. Muro is reading these forums and he can EMail me any concerns he has. I visited Ft. Logan with a special travel bug and we visited the final resting place of Major Adams when it was a locationless cache and is now one of my waymarks.

 

And I have a virtual Cache that is about the current price of freedom. And there is also Vets from WWI & WWII incorporated into another cache. And I have visited many a fine virtual cache about the vets.

 

Caching and Waymarking are a very neat and respectful way to pay our respects to our brothers in arms, we can let others know where they are and tell stories about them.

 

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The category requires the GPS to be indicated. Why is that necessary? You can't see the coordinates on the GPS in most cases. So the point someone made that is important for historical reasons is not satisfied. Anyway, most of the logs do not have the GPS in the pictures. However, some do and some have both as here..

 

The picture without the GPS is actually a better picture. The one with the GPS clutters up the picture and detracts from the beauty, sacrifice and strength of the memorial. Additionally it has the appearance of disrespect because it has nothing to do with the hero but is rather a requirement of our "game". That's the only purpose for showing the GPS. To satisfy a game requirement. Games and respect do not go together. The picture without the GPS should be sufficient. That's all the VA is asking for which is a reasonable request. Why continue to antaganize a portion of the public to prove a useless point about the 1st amendment? We're not going to make friends and gain supporters that way. We're taking a noble cause(waypointing our heroes graves) and cheapening it.

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The category requires the GPS to be indicated. Why is that necessary? You can't see the coordinates on the GPS in most cases.

I can not speak to the primary motivation of this waymark category owner's requirement (it may very well be just a "game" requirement as verification that the picture was not a stock photo). But, I can tell you that if the purpose is to record the geographic location a picture is taken, then I am more ready to believe the coordinates given by the person who shows me a picture with their GPSr in frame than without. Even if I can not read the GPSr, I know that they were there with it at the location and that is more evidence to the idea that their coordinates are correct than the other person's claimed coordinates and evidence of just the gravestone.

 

It is also true that the "game" brought someone to the gravestone and as such it becomes an integral part of why they've chosen to pay their respects to a fallen hero. There's no reason why that aspect of their visit shouldn't be recorded as a context in which to place the visitor's honorable actions.

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If waypoint pictures can be posted in other topics without the GPS in the picture, why do it in the one topic that upsets a portion of the public because it is such a sensitive issue? Respecting other people is just as important as respecting the fallen.

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If waypoint pictures can be posted in other topics without the GPS in the picture, why do it in the one topic that upsets a portion of the public because it is such a sensitive issue? Respecting other people is just as important as respecting the fallen.

Because a GPSr on a headstone is not disrespectful.

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If waypoint  pictures can be posted in other topics without the GPS in the picture, why do it in the one topic that upsets a portion of the public because it is such a sensitive issue?  Respecting other people is just as important as respecting the fallen.

Because a GPSr on a headstone is not disrespectful.

Sbell111 - If some do see placing a gps on a gravestone for a photograph as "disrespectful", I take it that you feel we should disregard their views?

Jon

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Sbell111 - If some do see placing a gps on a gravestone for a photograph as "disrespectful", I take it that you feel we should disregard their views?

Jon

You are exactly right.

 

Some would not like us to be in cemeteries, at all. That is not going to keep me out, however. You see, I don't have the desire or feel the need to bend to everyones beliefs or feelings.

 

That first amendment is a really cool thing. I'm going to miss it when its gone.

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In my search for one medal of honor winner, I found the cemetery he is in, but he has no gravemarker. I considered trying to find the exact spot of his grave and getting a marker for it. Raising money myself etc. All of this in his honor just because of some silly game.......

 

Seems like Waymarking is helping preserve and honor our fallen soldiers graves, not dishonor them.

Veterans get a free headstone or marker, go here to order it.

 

http://www.cem.va.gov/hm.htm

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I think that the placing of the GPS unit on the headstone is seen as disrespectful by others, whether or not that is the intent.

 

There is a certain amount of game or hunt to geocaching. Whether or not we intend to be disrespectful, we may be offending others. I think that we should be sensitive to the way others perceive our actions.

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That first amendment is a really cool thing.  I'm going to miss it when its gone.

SBell111 - I'm a little confused by your reference to the first amendment in this context.

 

My original question related to the placing of objects on gravestones and whether we should respect other's beliefs and requests with regard to that practice. If I understood correctly, you answered in the negative, that we should not respect other's beliefs.

 

The rest of your response expressed your intent to continue to enter graveyards even if some didn't want us there at all.

 

Anyway, I was unsure whether your reference to the first amendment means that you believe that everyone has a constitutionally protected first amendment right to place objects on gravestones or that we all have a constitutional right to enter graveyards based on the first amendment?

 

Jon

 

By the way, to save others looking it up for reference, my copy of the first amendment reads:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.
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I'm not a constitutional lawyer, but taking a pic of my GPSr sitting on a headstone would fall under 'freedom of speech', in my opinion.

 

Thanks for posting the 1st amendment, although most of us know it (if not from our education, then from one of the many other threads pertaining to it.) Obviously off-topic to this thread, but you will note that 'the right of the people peaceably to assemble' probably covers us nicely while in a public cemetery.

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I think that the placing of the GPS unit on the headstone is seen as disrespectful by others, whether or not that is the intent.

 

There is a certain amount of game or hunt to geocaching. Whether or not we intend to be disrespectful, we may be offending others. I think that we should be sensitive to the way others perceive our actions.

I disagree. If one continues to alter his/her behavior based on the feelings of others, we may as well all stay home.

 

Some time ago, I visited the grave of one of my old friends who died for his country. Based on a conversation that we had shared years before, I brought lunch and 'shared' it with him. During the hour or so that I was there, half a sandwich and an opened can of soda sat on his headstone. A passerby may have seen my actions as disrespectful; I do not. Should I have altered my actions because of the possible perception of others? I think not.

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I'm not a constitutional lawyer, but taking a pic of my GPSr sitting on a headstone would fall under 'freedom of speech', in my opinion.

Under this interpretation of "freedom of speech", is a person allowed to place ANY object on anyone's gravestone, or are there some limitations to this right?

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As I posted earlier, to win a useless point about the first amendment is not the issue. And maybe the concern about how others feel are not the issue either. So how's this for a reason. South Carolina nearly shut down caching totally in cemeteries for a real or percieved lack of respect. Maybe that's a reason to alter our actions in VA cemeteries. It's bad enough in SC. Do we need a federal law effecting all 50 states before we get the point?

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Don't politicians have better things to do, like, lets say, oh i don't know, work on health care issues, defending the country from real threats, etc.

 

Being Canadian, opinions of others are always integrated into society like it is our own. s***, the Canadian Cup of Hockey, is now the World cup of Hockey so as not to offend other nations. Geez :lol:

 

Seriously, tell them to shut up and do what they were elected to do.

 

Like the saying goes... " Opinions are like a**holes, everyone has one" But in this case, politicials seem to have more than one. :)

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I'm not a constitutional lawyer, but taking a pic of my GPSr sitting on a headstone would fall under 'freedom of speech', in my opinion.

Under this interpretation of "freedom of speech", is a person allowed to place ANY object on anyone's gravestone, or are there some limitations to this right?

Defacing and vandalism or any other illegal action is, well, illegal.

 

Taking a picture of a GPSr on a headstone is not illegal. Taking a picture of something is a form of speech. In this case the photo is meant to show the location of where a Medal of Honor recipient was interred. For the photographer it is to show that the tombstone was marked via a GPS receiver.

 

Ancillary to this is the listing on the web site which is also a form of speech. In this case the speech is to honor the Medal of Honor recipient.

 

If it is legal it is legal. If it is not, it is illegal. It seems pretty straightforward to me.

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It's bad enough in SC. Do we need a federal law effecting all 50 states before we get the point?

What point? That the government should tell you how you should mourn and/or honor the dead? I find that disgusting.

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I'm not a constitutional lawyer, but taking a pic of my GPSr sitting on a headstone would fall under 'freedom of speech', in my opinion.

Under this interpretation of "freedom of speech", is a person allowed to place ANY object on anyone's gravestone, or are there some limitations to this right?

That wasn't really a definition, but if it was, 'Yes'. A person could legally set any object on top of a headstone as long as it a.) was not left there (because that could be littering) and b.) it did no damage. Beyond that, I get a little bent when people try to tell me how to mourn for my fallen comrades.

 

As far as the SC issue goes, I could care less.

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It's bad enough in SC.  Do we need a federal law effecting all 50 states before we get the point?

What point? That the government should tell you how you should mourn and/or honor the dead? I find that disgusting.

Nobody's telling you how you should mourn or honor the dead - your dead. The monuments "belong" to the family of the medal of honor dead, not the public to do with it what they please. I wouldn't want you putting your crap on my family's headstones. Can you respect that?

Edited by Alan2
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Can you respect that?

Of course! Absolutely.

 

But if you want to touch on the subject of respect, should you be arrested and jailed for being disrespectful? More to the point, should you be arrested and jailed because someone thinks you are disrespectful?

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I think this whole thing is being blown out of proportion. I'm not suggesting arrest, nor is the VA. They've requested that pictures be simple showing the headstone only and that we not place objects on them. I agree with their viewpoint and respect your viewpoint as well. Enough said.

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When Jeremy first posted this thread my immediate reaction was the same as Alan2. If someone feels that a picture of a GPSr on a headstone is disrespectful it would be easy for the category owner to change the requirements so a picture with the GPSr is not required and even he could even ask that it not be taken. But then I began to think of where the complaint came from originally. This is exactly what they want us to do. And once we change that, they will complain that something else is disrespectful or annoying and ask we change that. Soon these people will be making all the rules and guidelines for Waymarking and geocaching, instead of waymarkers and geocachers controlling their own activity. I think it much better to point out that photograph is not meant as disrespect but rather as a sign of respect. We want to catalog the locations of Medal of Honor recipients' final resting place so that others will know where these heroes are buried and can also come to pay their respect. We use a GPS receiver to get the coordinates of the location. The picture is proof that one of us took the time to visit the grave and get the coordinates. It is not a game, as Rep. Ceips would portray it, though it may be a hobby we enjoy doing. Certainly when the locations we are cataloging are as solemn and inspiring as these are we are solemn and inspired as well.

Edited by tozainamboku
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While I agree a photo of a headstone with a GPS perched upon it isn't offensive, the folks at Veterans Affairs, National Cemetary Administration have stated a protocol I will adhere to as a matter of respect and courtesy to our veterans.

 

There's no law against putting a GPS on a headstone, so this isn't about first amendment rights or anysuch.

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I think the problem that is beginning to occur in this thread is that those of you asking for us to abide by what Mr. Muro has written are not reading what was written and placing it in the larger context.

 

Mr. Muro believes the problem is a use of an "identifying trinket" in what was relayed to him as a game we play. Unfortunately, he was fed bad information from the office of a politician in SC which biased him (I'll get to this in a minute). In actuality, it's not an "identifying trinket". It's a GPSr, a tool for the determination of geographic location. If we were going to national cemetaries and placing some sort of site tag or mini-stuffed animal on the gravestone for pictures, then his complaint may have some merit as at least then it'd be solely used as a "I found this spot!" marker, but the tool is important in determining location, accuracy, and precision of the information so that future interested persons can locate any of the Medal of Honor recipients. This information is already stored by Mr. Muro's own website (in the form of Cemetary Directory-style information, "3rd row of Block B", as opposed to geographic coordinates). The pictures help validate the information and is done respectfully, similar to CSI units when they insert their info markers at a homicide and take pictures...no one questions their respect for the dead. So, his contention that waymarkers are disrespecting the deceased in his cemetaries by using "identifying trinkets" on and around gravestones is simply factually incorrect. That gets back to my earlier comment that I will expand on now...

 

Fortunately, Mr. Muro tells us the source of his alert to our activities: A staff member of Ms. Ceips (R - SC State Legislature). I'm sure someone can provide a link to the first time we encountered Ceips and her actions towards turning geocaching into an illegal activity in SC. Unfortunately, she has taken pictures far out of context, lied about certain allegations against geocaching, and ignored repeated attempts to fix her faulty assumptions and rhetoric. SC Geocachers were caught unready for the most part and Ceips bill was able to get through the first stages of legislature on the backs of lies and deception to tug at the heartstrings of the representatives and to thereby keep us from disgracing the treasures of South Carolina (as she put it). I do not remember what the second legislative body in SC resolved to do with her bill (tabled indefinitely, was it?) but the issue hasn't come up again in the forums at least...until now. Now, it seems that they are trying to ellicit federal resolve against geocaching (particularly when it comes to graveyards). My guess is that Mr. Muro's comments are a prelude to a greater action that would side with Ceips' views and provide further ammo for her bill ... albeit ammo gained through more lies and deceit to Mr. Muro (as I'm sure the Ceips staffer was not fair about his treatment of "Waymarking" in feeding Mr. Muro such incorrect and biased commentary like "trinkets").

 

While it may or may not be some constitutional right to take a picture of an item in frame with a gravestone in a public cemetary, I hope this topic and any correspondence with Mr. Muro reflects the greater context of what is going on here. We have and will do no harm in the national cemetaries as we pay our respects to these veterans, just as has been the case in South Carolina. The misinformation originating from Ceips must be quelched by the truth of our actions in these sensitive locations and our continued participation at these locations in manners befitting of their sensitive nature, as we have always done.

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I do not remember what the second legislative body in SC resolved to do with her bill (tabled indefinitely, was it?) but the issue hasn't come up again in the forums at least...until now.

H3777 passed the House with a large majority and was passed to the Senate near the end of the legislative session. Since there was insufficient time to review the House bill thoroughly, the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee deferred action on H3777 until the next legislative session (which started last week).

 

Last June several South Carolina geocachers met with the State Archeologist and representatives from the Department of Natural Resources (DNR), State Parks, and the Department of Archives and History to work out compromise wording for the bill that took into account the concerns of all the stakeholders. The meeting was very productive and a draft compromise was developed. The draft language was further refined over the summer and in a phone call in mid-December, the State Archeologist let us know that he had presented it to the Senior Staff Counsel for the Senate Judiciary Committee and to Representative Ceips as having the full support of his office as well as DNR, Parks and Archives.

 

The proposed compromise legislation essentially raises the level of protection of South Carolina cemeteries, both private and public, to the same level as national cemeteries. That is to say, most recreational activities are prohibited within cemetery bounds without written permission (see National Cemetery Regulations) . Physical placement of a geocache and rubbing of gravestones (which can cause damage to delicate carvings) have been added to the regulated activities in the South Carolina version.

 

Mr. Muro's letter and Groundspeak's response will undoubtedly be cited to influence the language and scope of the eventual bill.

Edited by ikim & noj
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I'm not a constitutional lawyer, but taking a pic of my GPSr sitting on a headstone would fall under 'freedom of speech', in my opinion.

The invocation of First Amendment rights spurred me into some interesting research.

 

Apparently a lot of different groups have attempted to claim "protected non-speech" under the First Amendment to justify all kinds of actions ranging from trespassing on private property to flag burning to posting bills. It seems that in general, the courts have required that there be "expressive content" or "expressive conduct" in the non-speech action (e.g. the action expresses a political statement) in order to provide First Amendment protection. The courts generally seem to withold First Amendment protection and uphold limiting regulations or laws if they are "content neutral" even if there is expressive content or conduct in the non-speech action.

 

The words in quotes are all good search terms for googling if anyone is interested in learning more about First Amendment protection of nonspeech rights.

Edited by ikim & noj
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Don't politicians have better things to do, like, lets say, oh i don't know, work on health care issues, defending the country from real threats, etc.

 

Being Canadian, opinions of others are always integrated into society like it is our own. s***, the Canadian Cup of Hockey, is now the World cup of Hockey so as not to offend other nations. Geez <_<

 

Seriously, tell them to shut up and do what they were elected to do.

 

Like the saying goes... " Opinions are like a**holes, everyone has one" But in this case, politicials seem to have more than one.  :blink:

Thank you!

That was exactly what hubby said when I told him about this thread. Seems like as they run out of things to do, they turn on the trivial and inconsequential "hazards" that affect us. Agendas. (and I agree about the opinion part! :P )

 

How about Geocaching taking on a floral code? Pick an obscure but readily available flower (even silk if need be) to set on the marker, then take a picture of it. Nobody would gripe about that because it is a "sign" of respect to place flowers at a gravesite.

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