Old Wives' Tales
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Claim: Casey Sheehan's grave is unmarked with a standard headstone.
Origins: Casey Austin Sheehan was a 24-year-old
For two years after Casey Sheehan's death, his burial site in a Vacaville, California, cemetery remained unadorned with a formal headstone (although it was marked by a simple placard). In April 2006, Cindy Sheehan attempted to articulate the reasons for the lack of a headstone at her son's grave, citing her grief and unwillingness to acknowledge her son's death with a tangible symbol:
For the first year after Casey was killed, I didn't want to believe it. I didn't want to place a TOMBstone on my son's grave. I didn't want one more marble proof that my son was dead. I couldn't even call where he was buried a "cemetery," I had to call it "Casey's Park." I placed fresh flowers in the cup every week and journaled there almost on a daily basis, and often laid on it and fell asleep and dreamed of my needlessly killed son.In the same explanation, she also suggested that part of the reason for the lack of a headstone might be a dispute over monies paid to the mortuary that handled Casey's funeral services:
We had a Casualty Officer who abandoned us when our mortuary refused to pay the cemetery and told us that the "government sent the money to the mortuary, so now it is your problem. You may have to sue the mortuary."The owner of the mortuary, Steve Nadeau, disputed this statement:
Steve Nadeau, the mortuary's owner, said that not only did he properly pay the cemetery, but that he subsidized the process with his own money.On 25 May 2006, a headstone was finally placed at Casey's grave, one described thusly by the Vacaville Reporter:
Nadeau expressed hurt and disbelief at Sheehan's comments. He said that the amount of money the military gave the mortuary for Casey's funeral service and cemetery arrangements didn't even come close to covering the costs.
"Several kind citizens made donations," said Nadeau. "I absorbed the rest."
This was not the only way in which he went above and beyond his responsibilities following Casey's death, said Nadeau. He also provided a stretch limousine and a driver at his expense, he said, and invited the family to go to the airport with him so that he could accompany them. None of this was required, said Nadeau.
"Having known the Sheehan family for many years through
Nadeau also refuted Sheehan's statement that the mortuary finally paid the cemetery only after the family threatened to bring the story to the media.
"This never happened," said Nadeau. "I would stop by the family home as I do most families' homes and check with them on necessary needs, etc."
Nadeau said the military provided his mortuary $5,736 in funding to pay for the funeral service and cemetery arrangements. The funding came in May 2004, said Nadeau, and he paid the cemetery as soon as the costs had been totaled
The elegant marble slab is thick and emblazoned with a cross and delicate thickets of trees on both sides.That same publication also contacted Cindy Sheehan via e-mail for her comments on the placement of the headstone:
"Our Casey," reads an inscription on the front. "Ever faithful, kind, and gentle, good son, beloved brother, brave soldier, dear friend, you loved your family and lived your life serving others to the end." Six icons grace the other side, representing a military insignia, the theater, Eagle Scouts, Van Halen, the World Wrestling Federation and Superman.
Sheehan said she had paid for the tombstone herself and was part of a family effort to put it up, even though its installation saddened her.Last updated: 28 May 2006
"It is important for the rest of Casey's family to have one," she wrote. "I guess the pain of seeing it etched in marble that he is dead is another pain I will have to deal with."
The headstone was very expensive, Sheehan wrote. She said that the government should have paid for it because of its responsibility for his death.
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