Chapters Missing, Lessons Lost

Cemeteries can bring you closer to so many subjects. Subjects that inter-link with each other, like:

  • Architecture: as displayed in the structured designs of mausoleums in some older and larger cemeteries
      Architectural History: evidently speaks for itself
  • Memorial Art: the originality of artistic expression on display throughout any cemetery
      Memorial Art History: changes in memorial art as well as the material used for their presentation; from wood and stone, cast/wrought iron and steel, concrete and cement, or bronze, brass and zinc to living memorials like trees
  • Landscaping: was it influenced by religion or social issues?
      Cemeteries with mismatched stones (in good to poor conditions) clustered everywhere in every which way (religion)
      Cemeteries with walkways, lots of scattered trees, regimented grave lines, etc promoting tranquil settings (social)
  • Military Presence: some cemeteries in larger communities have areas designated for those who served
      Military History: “the Bravery of Innocence,” the scores of young people that served; “the Great War”/ WWI (1915-19), WWII (1939-45)
  • Religion: changes in its receding influences over memorial art, architecture and landscaping, as seen in Memorial Art History
  • Social: changes in its growing influences over memorial art, architecture and landscaping, as seen in Memorial Art History
      Presence of Fraternal Organizations: Freemasons/ “the Masons,” the Shriners, IOF, Lions, Rebekahs, etc
      Social History: the results from “the Bravery of Innocence” almost crippling a city, leaving those too old and too young to fend for themselves; “the Irish Potato Famine” (1845-52), Spanish Influenza (1918)*, the Great Depression (1929-41), SARS* (2003)
  • Genealogy: your family’s involvement and influences would affect all these subjects and more (or others) in the community where they resided, where they served in uniform, where they migrated from and immigrated to as well as what they did during the journey, etc
      • For example, Military & Social History: General Alfred TERRY (ancestor) was a mentor and friend to “the boy general” George Armstrong CUSTER, Commanding Officer of the 7th US Calvary. When Custer and his troops were killed at the Little Big Horn, Terry held the Sioux Nation’s Chieftain Sitting Bull responsible and searched for him.
      Long story short: Chief Sitting Bull surrendered to General Terry — my ancestor knew Custer; and his involvement brought Custer’s (alleged) killer to Justice!

Each individual burials is a revered inheritance, but combined they are a community’s respected and enriched history. Cemeteries, graveyards and burial grounds are heritage sites … well, they should be.
They are unique history books that you not only can read and walk through, but feel — no “sugarcoating” here. They tell of accomplishments, devotion and ugly truths … like War, Disease and Misfortune. They are subtle and blatant reminders to all who brave to walk their trails; they challenge all visitors: “Walk a mile in these shoes!” They are the finest of art galleries with ever-growing exhibits of craftsmanship. They are the most beautiful of peaceful parklands (when upkeep in maintained) for a leisurely walk, or to sit and just sort out one’s thoughts. Unfortunately, some lay forgotten, abandoned … chapters missing, lessons lost.

*Spanish Influenza: Worldwide, more people were hospitalized in WWI from this pandemic than wounded. US Army training camps became death camps, with death rates in excess of 80% in some locations
*SARS = Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome

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