An Open Letter to Maui County

Roughly a month ago, the Maui County Department of Parks and Recreation was under scrutiny for the apparent disrepair of the Maui Veterans Cemetery, located in Makawao. The full story from the Maui News can be found here.

Stars and Stripes.
Stars and Stripes.

I stopped by the cemetery first thing Monday morning and was disappointed to find a surprise left by a four-legged visitor (which are not allowed in the cemetery). There were several workers at the cemetery focused on their assigned tasks, but nobody seemed to give a sh*t about this pile of sh*t, which had sat there, undisturbed, for a while (it was already eroding). The fact that it was located right as you entered the main gate to the cemetery was all the more irritating to me.

Dog sh*t.
A big pile of dog poop right behind a veteran’s final resting place. Inexcusable.

The Next Day.

I began writing this blog on Monday afternoon and did not finish it in a timely manner, so I wrote some more on Tuesday. I decided to stop by the cemetery on my way to work Tuesday afternoon and found this…untouched…unmoved.

A different day, the same result.

In an attempt to bring some respect and dignity to the Veterans Cemetery I have decided to write an open letter to the Maui County Department of Parks and Recreation and offer my services to help maintain the honor of the hundreds of men and women who are laid to rest just down the road from Makawao Town.

Black and white long exposure.
Black and white long exposure.

To whom it may concern:

As Memorial Day approaches us I would like to submit that the County of Maui allow me to look after the day-to-day maintenance of the Maui Veterans Cemetery in Makawao. I am not asking to be the superintendent, head groundskeeper, director or even a manager, but grant me the role of caretaker in a cemetery that demands higher standards of preservation and interpretation than it currently receives. It looks like the Office of Veteran Services and the Department of Public Works have it in their power to make a permanent position at the cemetery.

I visited the Veterans Cemetery on Monday, May fourth, and I was disappointed in the general lack of respect shown to the hundreds of service men and women who are resting within the boundaries of this cemetery. As I walked through the main chain link fenced gate of the cemetery, I was greeted by an eroding pile of animal feces. I assume this was from a dog, which of course are prohibited within the cemetery walls, but I understand it probably happens from time to time. There were plenty of workers around that day, but I do not know their particular roles at the cemetery, so I cannot put blame on any of them (they could have been on a different assignment, working on the renovations and upgrades to obtain shrine status or preparing for a burial). Regardless of their assigned tasks, it would only take one person and one shovel a matter of moments to bring back some dignity to the soldier resting two feet away. Instead, the pile of poop sat there.

I visited the Veterans Cemetery again on Tuesday, May fifth in the afternoon, and was appalled that the same pile of fecal matter was in the same spot, untouched from the previous day.

I will be returning Wednesday, May sixth, and I am bringing a shovel and a plastic bag with me to remove the pile of crap myself.

Now, back to my job offer.

I am not properly trained in all aspects of the job I am proposing to spearhead, but what I lack in technical skills I make up for in resourcefulness and pride. I hold myself to higher standards in every aspect of my current job. Imagine what I could do if I was given a chance to work on something I was passionate about. As I do not have a background in landscaping or grounds-keeping, I would be hard pressed to point out the differences between Bermuda, zoysia, St. Augustine or centipede grass. These are things I can grasp over time, given the proper teacher and the room to learn. My moral compass does not waiver or falter in the face of challenges. The fact that I know what is right, what honor is and that some things that are wrong can be changed by good people and hard work.


The following is a list of supplies I would need to perform the care-taking job at a higher standard than is currently being displayed. Some tools are already in use, while others are going to seem a little out there. I have included my reasoning behind some of the more unique ideas in order to improve upon the current situation.

  • A website. I would like to have the world know about the sons and daughters of Maui who have served their country so faithfully. We should share pictures of the cemetery, our celebrations and our ongoing projects. If surviving members would like us to share stories, war records or photographs online, we could arrange that as well. Being a caretaker should also include being a historian, record keeper and story-teller.
  • 52 to 365 American flags. One for each week, or possibly each day of the year. After a flag has been flown at the cemetery it will be folded properly and offered to families that have loved ones interred at the cemetery. If the county would like to make back some money on the flags, they could charge a nominal fee for this service. After all the family requests have been fulfilled any flag flown over the Veterans Cemetery could be presented to officials, dignitaries or sold to the general public for a profit (another use of the website tool).
  • A golf cart. This may sound like a frivolous demand, but this is not for everyday use or to haul work tools. This golf cart would be for transportation of our disabled and elderly visitors. I would expect this golf cart to be in heavy demand, due to the fact that the cemetery is not the easiest to maneuver in a wheelchair (I am speaking from experience). The golf cart should be made available during business hours for any and all patrons that need it.
  • All supplies needed for painting. This would include your ladders, paint, paint brushes, rollers, drop cloths, rags, etc.
  • Bristled brushes, soap, buckets and car wax. These would be for scrubbing the many bronze plaques around the cemetery and cleaning the white marble headstones.
  • Lawn maintenance tools. This list would include your standard lawn mowers (riding or walking), weed wackers, rakes, trash bags, hoses, grass seed spreader. Please note, I would not need, nor would I allow the use of leaf blowers in or around the cemetery. I find them to be extremely irritating and ineffective. Given a few extra moments a push broom and a rake can do the same job cleaner and without all the noise and smell of gasoline.
  • Other necessities would include standard supplies: painting equipment (this would include your ladders, paint, paint brushes, rollers, drop cloths, rags, etc.), electrical equipment (light bulbs, etc.), restroom supplies, cleaning products, dustpan and brooms, wet floor signs, out-of-order signs, bio-hazard bags and any OSHA-approved personal protection gear (glasses, goggles, respirators if necessary).

I am willing to work full-time, 40+ hours a week, and we can negotiate a salary when you contact me and have the position approved and created by committees, politicians or the equal opportunity commission. I would need to submit my two-week notice to my current employer of twelve years, so the sooner you reach out to me, the quicker we can start moving the whole experience at the Maui Veterans Cemetery in a positive direction.

Vincent S. Lorusso
Makawao, Hawaii

Rainbow Warriors.
Rainbow Warriors.
Vincent Lorusso Written by:

A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives. - Jackie Robinson

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