Monday, May 25, 2015

Lost Memorials

Picture taken while searching for family in Leverington Cemetery...
there shouldn't be any open spaces in a full cemetery. 
Over the past few years, I have visited a few cemeteries trying to find the names of family members in the vast seas of grass and stone. Sometimes I have been successful while other times it has proven to be a harder task than expected. However, during each of those visits, I remember walking by the graves of countless veterans many of whom passed away long after their service but some who were killed in action.

There were a few resting places that were well maintained and the grounds were easy to access. Others have become far from the idyllic resting place that they once were and now seem to have been forgotten. These are the places that need our attention on this day not the grills, parks, and festivities to which we have all grown accustom. In one of the more run down cemeteries that I have come across, those graves were of soldiers who died while fighting in the Civil War. It seems ironic that these resting places are the ones forgotten on this day when these graves were the original impetus for the holiday.

It makes me wonder how many parades have walked past these resting places in recent years without the participants thinking twice about those who lay, unrecognized, a few yards from their feet. I have been asked to participate in countless parades but I have never once been asked to place flags on the graves of soldiers. Maybe I should be the one who changes this lack of tradition next year.

While I enjoy the time that I am able to spend with my family, the purpose of the day seems to have been lost. The focus now seems to be on not having to go to work (different than focusing on spending time with family) and sales… the holiday itself seems to have been sold. All the while, we forget those for whom this day was meant to honor. And there is no other more visceral reminder of this change in priority than the decrepit state of many cemeteries around us especially within the city limits.

There are too many places out there that need our help not just for those for whom this day recognizes but all the families that are represented in many of these forgotten resting places. After all, you never know when you might go looking for your family and not be able to find them because their headstone has long since crumbled, sunken, or fallen to the ground. All you need to do is walk in one of these cemeteries and see the open field of grass to realize that there are countless people who will now remain nameless to realize the importance of this situation. And on this day, think about the possibility of someone buried there who gave the ultimate sacrifice who will never be recognized for their service again.