There are few places in America more beautiful than a national cemetery. Los Angeles National Cemetery is no exception. During the early summer, jacaranda trees bloom in a riot of purple enlivening the grounds.
On Sept. 1, 1973, in enacting the National Cemetery Act of 1973, the cemetery was transferred from the U.S. Army to the Veterans Administration’s new National Cemetery System. The VA’s National Cemetery Administration maintains over “2.9 million gravesites at 130 national cemeteries in 39 states and Puerto Rico.”
Before and since that time, it seems soldiers’ tombstones that were replaced were simply tossed into the VA’s biomedical nuclear and chemical dump on such a grand scale that headstones were found, are are still buried, under Brentwood School’s football field, home of the Eagles.
This gallery is haunted by the specter of a man, a homeless man holding aloft the helmet of a soldier as he walks among the tombstones talking to ghosts only he can see. We didn’t see this man until later, when he was long gone and we were busy putting this information together for you.
How could we have missed him? How can we not ‘see’ somebody homeless like him when he’s lying outside an ornate gate to the West LA VA built by Brentwood benefactors who will make veterans land public land for a park? How could the VA have missed the atomic tombstones for years?
How? is perhaps not the question. Why? might be more to the point. What?, as in what are we going to do about it, may be the answer.