I know this doesn’t typically fall under animation or comics, but the situation upsets me so much I have to write about it. The inspiration for this article is a sad read. It involves a young woman named Sgt. Kimberly Walker who was murdered by her boyfriend. As anyone who has lost a loved one knows there are no words to be spoken when someone is taken so suddenly from you. You ask a lot of questions, sometimes you gain faith, sometimes you lose faith, and you’ll always remember the person and never stop missing them. When someone dies one of the last things you can really do for them is bury them in a cemetery that hopefully represents them in a way where you could look at the grave and get a real understanding for who the person was. Well, it turned out Kimberly was a huge fan of SpongeBob Squarepants. She loved the show and was even buried with a SpongeBob doll.
So Kimberly’s family decided to do something unique with her grave. The Walker family ordered two six-foot-tall SpongeBob monuments, each weighing over 7,000 pounds and costing a whopping $13,000 apiece (maybe more). The Walker’s purchased six plots for this massive undertaking and was approved with consultation of an employee from Cincinnati’s Spring Grove Cemetery. Both monuments were adorned in military uniform: One in Army clothes for Kimberly and another in Navy uniform for her twin sister Carol, who (thankfully) is still alive. So all this work goes into the monuments. Lots of money has been paid. The monuments have been approved. The only thing left to do was put them up. And they were up…for a whole day. The next day they were taken down because the president of the cemetery claimed (in a statement) that the monuments “violated their policy.”
What part of the policy was the violation? He didn’t say. Basically what happened was that this family spent a long time planning for these monuments, paying over $26,000 thousand dollars to make them a reality, had the monuments APPROVED to the point where they actually got put up, and once ALL this hard work has been done the president of the company told them to take them down because of a “policy violation!” Oh, but he did promise to “make a compromise with the family that [the company] would be willing to pay for.” Well no kidding they’ll pay for it. After all, chances are the compromise won’t cost nearly as much as the Walker’s spent themselves, for a grave site that was very personal for them (granted, I guess it always is, but rarely do you see people spending as much money on one as much as they have).
If there was a policy violation they should have caught it well before all this money and time had been spent on it. If it was a copyright problem then that should have been worked out while the plans were being drawn (and I doubt Viacom would have had a problem with them using SpongeBob Squarepant like this, as they've made exceptions for some of their other properties). Those saying that they’ll pay for a compromise will not be enough. If they are insistent that the monuments can’t go back up, they need to pay for the new grave AND refund their money! After all, the family was spending money on something they expected to get. It’s not their fault the company took an absurd amount of money for a grave that ultimately got taken down. I think this is a disgusting thing to do to this family and I say those monuments should be put back where they belong and stay there.
Oh, and Spring Grove Cemetery, if your reason for taking the monuments down was because they were too big I want to point you to the slideshow on the right. There you can see graves of extreme size that were built without any intention of ever taking them down.