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Saturday, Nov 25, 2017
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Unearthing of veteran's remains may spur changes

An Army private from World War II buried in Florida is leading the fight for a more dignified handling of veterans' remains. The remains of Pvt. Lawrence Davis Jr., buried in 2004, were unearthed during maintenance to secure the headstone at Florida National Cemetery in Bushnell. "During our routine headstone raising realignment project the contractor removed the headstone from the socket, dug down a few inches to put in some limestone to help stabilize the marker," said Maurice Roan, the assistant director of the cemetery. "And during this process is when the veteran's remains were exposed."
Over time, the land beneath grave markers might shift, moving them from their original straight lines. Also, since Davis had no family, the medical examiner delivered his remains in a cardboard box. Roan says the cemetery takes the remains in whatever container holds them, and buries it as long as the container is not leaking and will support the weight. "We treat every burial here with the upmost respects as well as maintaining the grounds. It is a national shrine and we want to keep it like that," Roan said. The handling of the remains of Davis might lead to changes to better accommodate veterans in the future. "Burial in a cardboard box is not a dignified way to treat someone who served their country," said Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla.  Nelson and Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., are supporting a bill called the Dignified Burial Of Veterans Act of 2012.   If it becomes law it would require the Department of Veterans Affairs to review its burial standards and authorize the purchase of caskets or urns for all veterans in national cemeteries. Meanwhile, a funeral home in Zephyrhills has donated a casket for Davis. The remains of Davis will soon be removed from his grave and placed in the donated casket, and he will be reburied on July 3 with full military honors.
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