The family of a murdered Iraq war veteran appears to have reached an impasse with a Cincinnati cemetery over twin 6-foot-tall, 7,000-pound statues of SpongeBob SquarePants installed at her grave site.
According to The Associated Press, the headstones were erected in Spring Grove Cemetery on Oct. 10, nearly eight months after 28-year-old Army Sgt. Kimberly Walker, who had served two tours in Iraq, was found strangled and beaten to death in a Colorado hotel room, allegedly at the hands of her boyfriend.
Because of Walker’s longtime love of the cartoon character — she even had a SpongeBob-themed birthday party ever year — her family decided the best memorial would be statues of the energetic cartoon sea sponge, one in an Army uniform to represent Kimberly and a second in a Navy uniform for her living twin sister Kara, an IT specialist for the Navy. They spent $26,000 on the statues, receiving permission from Nickelodeon and design approval from a cemetery employee.
But the day after the memorials were installed, a Spring Grove staff member called to say they had to be taken down. It seems the employee who OK’d the plan made a mistake.
“The family chose a design with the guidance of a Spring Grove employee who unfortunately made an error in judgment,” cemetery president Gary Freytag told CNN. “The monument does not fit within Spring Grove Cemetery guidelines, was not approved by senior management and cannot remain here.”
Walker’s family wants the two SpongeBobs reinstalled, but Freytag insists that’s not an option. He’s proposed instead a more traditional marker bearing the character’s likeness, or somehow laying the original monuments on the ground — at the cemetery’s expense. The family is considering the proposals.
“My sister served our country and most people try to accommodate veterans and try to take care of them,” Kara Walker told The AP. “For them not to accommodate and respect what my sister sacrificed, not only for my family, but for everyone else in this country, really bothers me.”