Flags Can Stay Over Fallen Soldiers' Grave

Cemetery backs down on threat to remove flags

By Susan Rivera
|  Wednesday, Jul 28, 2010  |  Updated 8:45 AM CDT
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Flags Can Stay Over Fallen Soldiers' Grave

Family photo

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The family of a fallen soldier does not have remove two flagpoles -- one with an American flag the other with a POW/MIA flag --- from a Skokie cemetery.

The cemetery where Army Corporal Albert  Bitton is buried has relented and agreed to let the memorial stand after telling the family they had to remove the flags or face "corrective measures," according to the Chicago Sun-Times,

On Tuesday – the day the flagpoles were to be removed – the Illinois Department of Professional Regulation officials negotiated a deal between the family and the Houston-based cemetery manager, Dignity Memorial.  Elie Bitton, the late Corporal’s 80-year-old father told the Sun-Times the deal includes replacing the two poles with one pole that will fly both flags, and, the cemetery is picking up the tab for the new flagpole, Bitton said.

"If I had my choice I'd have both poles, but I'm sick of this. I'm getting old, I don't sleep at night. I cry every day," Bitton told the Sun-Times. "It was a compromise."

Albert Bitton -- known as "Doc" to those who knew him -- was just 20 years old when he was killed in Iraq in February of 2008. An aspiring doctor, Bitton had enlisted in the Army to participate in their medic training program.

The 80-year-old Rogers Park Man was told earlier this month he had to remove the flagpoles and flowers surrounding the gravesite because they did not meet cemetery standards.

In a statement to the Sun-Times, Dignity Memorial spokeswoman Jennifer Lange Brandino said the company  "respects those who have served our country. Our request to the Bitton family to adhere to the cemetery rules was not meant to be disrespectful to Albert Bitton's service, but to create a serene environment for all families."

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