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Woman worried about Pulaski fireworks display near gravesite

'Salute to America': where and when to watch July 4 celebration
Posted at 8:15 PM, Jun 27, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-27 21:39:29-04

PULASKI, Tenn. (WTVF) — Some residents in Giles County are concerned about a fireworks display they say will happen in a city cemetery.

The Independence Day celebration raised questions for county school board member and funeral director Willa Smith who said she thinks it should happen somewhere else.

Smith has several family members buried in Maplewood Cemetery in Pulaski.

"It's been here as long as I've been big enough to know anything about it," said Smith. "My grandparents — my maternal grandparents — are buried over in the early section as you come around that road over there. My mother and dad are buried in the middle section right near the dirt pile."

Her most recent loss was her daughter, Anissa Lynnette Sherrell, who died in September 2021.

Smith said she was raised to respect the cemetery, but she learned fireworks would be fired from a field in the space.

"It's degrading. It's desecrating," she said.

Still, she was told her parents aren't far from the spot where she was told the fireworks would be lit.

She thinks the city needs to look elsewhere to base the display.

There are several other nearby fields. Though, they're farther away from where the July 1st Independence Day show the city has planned.

"I am a funeral director and I'm a funeral home owner, but I'm also a human who has lost," said Smith. "I know what the pain of loss is. I just don't think that this is the proper way. I'm not against the fireworks, and the festivity's wonderful, but I just feel like there has got to be a better place than Maplewood Cemetery, or any cemetery."

She said she tried to raise her concerns with the city but nothing has changed.

"I finally put it on social media. I tried to work around that... because this is my home, and I know Pulaski and Giles County. We're better than this," she said.

She hopes someone will listen now.

NewsChannel 5 reached out to the city for comment on this story but there has not been any response yet.