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Landfill is marked as hallowed ground page 2
About 250 people attend a memorial service to honor service members whose partial cremated remains were dumped at the King George Landfill

 A color guard from the Pentagon division of the U.S. Sea Cadet Corps presents the colors during a ceremony at the King George Landfill Sunday. A plaque was unveiled recalling service members whose remains were sent there.
REZA MARVASHTI/THE FREE LANCE-STAR
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Date published: 9/24/2012

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She said King George would not have allowed Dover Air Force Base to dump the partial remains in the landfill, had county or Waste Management officials known anything about the practice.

She said the memorial "is our chance to make a wrong a right" and to provide the dignity the service members deserve.

Pastor Michael Ramming read a letter from New Jersey Congressman, Democratic Rep. Rush Holt, praising one of his constituents, Gari-Lynn Smith. Her persistent questioning of Department of Defense officials led to the discovery that hundreds, perhaps thousands of service members had partial remains dumped in the landfill, Holt said, including those of her husband.

In his letter, the congressman said that Smith, along with King George residents, had helped turn the landfill from an "ignoble place" to "holy ground."

When Gari-Lynn Smith was introduced, some in the audience, especially members of American Legion Posts 89 and 329 in King George, stood.

She talked about the mixed emotions she faced, that never in her dreams would she have imagined a landfill as the final resting place of her husband, Sgt. 1st Class Scott R. Smith.

"I can't help but think this never should have happened," the New Jersey woman told the crowd.

One of the few things that comforted her, after her husband was killed by an improvised explosive device in 2006, was that his remains would be treated with the respect they deserved.

She said there was no greater tragedy a government could do than to disrespect the sacrifice of her husband and others.

She broke into tears as she closed her remarks with, "Scott, I love you. I miss you every day. I know you deserved more than this, and I hope I have made you proud."

At that point, everyone in the audience stood.

Cathy Dyson: 540/374-5425
Email: cdyson@freelancestar.com


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