I received two comments on my post “Letter from my father…” on Monday night. When I saw these comments I thought it was some sick joke and part of some awful scam. So I marked the comments as spam. I was thinking all along this would not end well.
Hello, my name is Curt Harding. I live in Murfreesboro, TN. If your father is Otto Kirchner-Dean, June 2, 1917 – April 5, 1984, I need to talk to you about something I found. Email me at… Thank you.
I need to talk to you about your father. Call me as soon as you get this.
A phone number was included in the second comment but I chose to email him to ask what he had found.
This was the response I received from his iPhone.
Thank you for responding.I found his gravestone lying in a ditch in Franklin,TN. I found that odd and I wanted to find a family member to tell them. - Curt
Well, at this point I was really losing it and thinking this man is crazy (and not in a good way). I was wondering what kind of person would engage me in this kind of sick and painful joke. Then a second email came to me with the photograph and I was just about to totally lose it. How much of a coincidence could this be that at the very time I started to blog about my father someone would contact me saying that they found his gravestone in a ditch. I was wondering where this was going. Somehow this photo had to be photoshopped.
The man even provided a Facebook url and I checked his Facebook page but was totally convinced someone evil had hijacked his Facebook page. I was thinking at this point I should stop blogging and cancel my Facebook account. This just is not worth the headaches. I went to sleep with all these thoughts running through my head.
The next morning at 10:30 I received another note from his iPhone.
I have new information today. Apparently Quantico was supposed to properly destroy it, when Otto’s wife died and a new stone was placed, but didn’t. No one knows how it wound up 700 miles away in a Franklin, Tennessee field. The Nashville Veterans Administration has offered to properly dispose of it. I found another one and possibly more. Someone really dropped the ball here. Our veterans deserve better. What would you like me to do? Apparently the veterans dispose of head stones in a similar way as the American flag.
I was wondering how he is getting all this information. So today I call Quantico National Cemetery and to their credit a real person picked up right away. I told him my story and he said a guy called yesterday wanting details on my father’s stone and asking all kinds of questions. He didn’t know what to make of it. At this point I was more than a little upset. The guy told me I should speak to a man who works in the room where the stones are kept and maintained. His name is George Truslow. He gave me another number to call to speak to George. So, I hung up and called George. He picked up the phone right away. He told me that the only way anyone could get possession of my father’s stone is if they drove up there and committed an illegal act. That said, George has worked in this capacity for only 5 years and my dad’s stone was replaced 16 years ago. George told me he would have the director call me within the hour. Sure enough a short time later my phone rang. It was from a Mr. Patrick McGrady. Patrick didn’t know what to make of the story but said he’d send a man out to my father’s gravesite on the spot. We traded email addresses and I told Patrick I would send him a copy of the notes I had received from “Curt” and the photograph of the headstone he said he found. My note to Patrick.
As per our phone conversation, these are the emails this person from Franklin, Tennessee sent me. I am using an account that is not associated with my name.
Please call me with any detailed that can shed some light on this. I still need to know where Quantico destroys of its unneeded gravestones.
Thank you for your help.
Patrick’s note back a short while later included a photograph of the gravestone that is in place today.
As of todays date of Dec 4, 2012 this is the stone that is at the gravesite.
To answer your question about the old stones, we break them up and dispose of them.
So I started looking at this guy Curt’s website and I am amazed to see my dad’s photo posted there along with comments from Curt’s friends on how this could have happened. So at this point, especially as “Curt” has not tried to hit me up for any money, my husband and I are thinking this guy and his story are for real. So on Wednesday, I emailed him again, this time asking for more details and letting him know my feelings on his Facebook post.
I am still in shock that this could happen. Please give me the details of when and how you came across this. Since the stones were swapped out 16 years ago a whole lot of time has passed. How long did it look like these stones were lying there? Was it overgrown around them? How did you find them?I have to be honest with you I do not feel comfortable that you posted my father’s tombstone on your facebook wall. I would like to have it properly destroyed. I am wondering why are you focusing just on my father’s stone since you say there are many others.
To his credit Curt apologized and honored my feelings and removed the photograph from his facebook wall. His note back to me.
I saw someone in a van dumping something back in a secluded area. After they left, I went back and made the discovery. It does look like they’ve been there a long time. The only reason I focused on your father is because he’s the only name I can make out. Others are stacked on top of one another and I was in a suit at the time. I would never want to offend by putting it on Facebook and I will remove it, but without posting it, I never would have discovered where it came from, how to get it taken care of, or found you to notify you. The Nashville National Cemetery is coming today to properly dispose of the stones.
Curt also sent this additional photograph of the site where my dad’s stone was found along with pieces of many others.
My email to Curt yesterday.
Thank you for removing the photo from your Facebook page. I thank you and appreciate what you have done to make sure these are properly destroyed. Hopefully, with some media attention they will know not to let this happen again. They tell me they are all destroyed on site now at Quantico. To have one survive intact is inexcusable on their part. Not sure why the VA did not get involved in finishing the job properly that they botched in the first place. Why they would cart them all the way down to Tennessee is crazy and irresponsible. I wonder on whose property they are being dumped. Looks like there are railroad tracks nearby. Maybe that is how they got there in the first place.
Again, thank you. Maybe now I can rest in peace. I feel certain that my father still is.
Happy to report that this story has a happy ending. On Wednesday, December 5th, thanks to Mr. Curt Harding, the Nashville National Cemetery workers came and properly removed my father’s gravestone to be destroyed along with all the other pieces at the dumping site. And sometimes good things do happen when personal information gets posted on the internet.