Veterans Day invariably results in a few newspaper articles similar to the one written about the Pittston City Cemetery. Out of respect for veterans’ graves, this small Pennsylvania town is seeking volunteers to provide care to its cemetery. Budget cuts and personnel cuts have left Pittston without the resources to provide maintenance to the cemetery.

The Pittston cemetery plight provides a context to one funeral director’s assertion that municipal cemeteries represent a ‘true value’ to consumers. The funeral director fails to grasp that the grave at a municipal cemetery is priced artificially low. Most municipal cemeteries are exempt from contributing to endowed care funds intended to provide care to the graves. Instead, taxpayers must subsidize the cemetery’s care. In lean times, the cemetery must go without care.

But for the veterans, would Pittston be seeking volunteers to cut the weeds and clean up the cemetery? Even in death, these veterans continue to serve their community.

Before purchasing a grave space, consumers should ask the cemetery how its maintenance will be funded in future years. If the cemetery maintains a care fund, determine whether it complies with state laws, and request information about the fund’s trustee.