Friday, January 31, 2014

Niagara Falls, Ontario

Maple Leaf Iconography:  Does pop culture matter? Judging from what's on cemetery landscapes, the answer would be 'yes.' In many circumstances, it is more important than religion. Judge for yourself from this headstone: Bruce Springsteen Greatest Hits, Toronto Maple Leafs, and two classic cars. At the bottom: a cross. Niagara Falls Cemetery. [2013]

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

London, Ontario

Maple Leaf Iconography:  Don't think the maple leaf's iconic status originated with Canada's new national flag in 1965 or with a certain hockey team. On these soldiers' headstones from the Second World War, the maple leaf is used as a symbol of national honor. In fact, during the war, the Canadian Army Battle Flag carried a trefoil of maple leafs, no less no more than the three fleurs de lis or the three parts of the Union Jack. Mount Pleasant Cemetery. [2013]

Monday, January 27, 2014

Niagara Falls, Ontario

Maple Leaf Iconography:  Cemetery landscapes suggest that patriotism doesn't flag upon death. Many people, and not just veterans, make the national flag a permanent part of their memorial. They have it etched in granite. Just think: of all the icons that could have been chosen for this headstone, it was the maple leaf flag of Canada that won the lottery of choice. A more colorful version flies from poles, including those below in Canada's capital. Quick: What's Canada's capital? [2013]

Friday, January 24, 2014

East Gwillimbury, Ontario

Canadian Iconography:  Canadians are proud of nothing if not hockey, but lift your eyes to the heavens (as we all do when someone dies) and you will see something else that makes Canada Canada: a celebration in the sky, the aurora borealis, the Northern Lights. If you need evidence that the colorful sashes have become iconic, just look at one of Canada's commemorative coins (which also features an inuksuk). Queensville Cemetery. [2010]

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Dunham, Quebec

Canadian Iconography:  An inuksuk, or stone cairn, was chosen as the official symbol of the 2010 Winter Olympics when they were held in Canada. They dot the Canadian Arctic, and some are shaped like human beings. In the relatively featureless landscapes of the polar fringe, monuments like this serve as landmarks and as navigation aids: appropriate metaphors for a journey into Second Life. In fact, this could be an avatar! Dunham Cemetery. [2011]

Monday, January 20, 2014

Niagara Falls, Ontario

Canadian Iconography:  The common loon is the most iconic of Canada's birds. It has, in fact, become a symbol of the nation. More than 25 years ago, it was chosen as the signature design element for the One Dollar coin, now popularly called "the loonie." The scene on this headstone uses the loon motif to epitomize the deceased's homeland and to symbolize the family, an institution as timeless as the Canadian North itself. Niagara Falls Cemetery. [2013]

Friday, January 17, 2014

Road Town, Tortola, British Virgin Islands

St. George's Anglican Church Cemetery:  His Honor, Lieutenant Colonel, President: Even if you have never heard of John Cornell Chads, you know you are in the presence of greatness, at least as it was defined in 1854. Step back and shift your gaze from the memorial slab to the grave itself.  The protective fence affirms your conclusion: An important person is buried here. [2014]

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Road Town, Tortola, British Virgin Islands

St. George 's Anglican Church Cemetery:  Whoever is buried here has a purple heart. No, not the military decoration, the plant that is covering this grave. The plant is called purple heart. Give you any ideas for honoring U.S. veterans? [2014]

Monday, January 13, 2014

Road Town, Tortola, British Virgin Islands

St. George's Anglican Church Cemetery:  Road Town is the largest town in the British Virgin Islands. So, you might expect to find an Anglican church on the town's picturesque Main Street. St. George's (this view from the rise out back) is completely encircled by the churchyard, a reminder to everyone attending services that our days on earth are numbered. [2014]

Friday, January 10, 2014

Honolulu, Hawaii

Rainbows in the Graveyard:  Not a day goes by in Honolulu that you don't see a rainbow in the sky. Of course, therefore, you would expect to see a rainbow in the cemetery. Oahu Cemetery. [2011]

"I'll love you more." -- Judy

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Greeley, Colorado

Rainbows in the Graveyard:  Do cemeteries put you in a reflective mood? Do you then quickly realize that graveyards are not dwelling places for the living? Would you look at a headstone like this and flee, knowing that you could make a difference in the land of flesh and blood? Maya Angelou may be speaking to you: "Try to be a rainbow in someone's cloud." Linn Grove Cemetery. [2013]

Fly, fly precious one
Your endless journey has begun
Take your gentle happiness
Far too beautiful for this
Cross over to the other shore
There is peace forevermore
But hold this memory bittersweet
Until we meet
Fly, fly do not fear
Don’t waste a breath, don’t shed a tear
Your heart is pure, your soul is free
Be on your way, don’t wait for me
Above the universe you’ll climb
On beyond the hands of time
The moon will rise, the sun will set
But, I won’t forget

Monday, January 6, 2014

Meadows of Dan, Virginia

Rainbows in the Graveyard:  If the rainbow stands for anything, it stands as a symbol of hope and promise: "Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth" (Genesis 9:16). Here, a rainbow dispels the clouds and, rather than a pot of gold, a garden of flowers marks its end. Meadows of Dan Cemetery. [2012]

Life is a Rainbow of Beautiful Memories

Friday, January 3, 2014

Windsor, Vermont

Doors as Metaphors:  Colonial cemeteries often look like fields of doors: some squared, some arched, some embellished. Doors mark passages with clear beginnings and endings. In scientific terms, they symbolize a system boundary. Like a doorway that closes behind you, death marks the end of life and the beginning of afterlife. Old South Church Cemetery. [2009]

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Chattanooga, Tennessee

Doors as Metaphors:  Do you see a headstone or an arched doorway? The traditional headstone took the shape of a door in the form of an arch, perhaps to symbolize triumphal passage from one world to the next. The Brainerd Mission was established to bring 'civilization' to the Cherokees, but one of the most uncivilized policies of the U.S. government was enacted exactly six months after this missionary couple's little boy died. The Indian Removal Act was signed into law and most of the Cherokees living in eastern Tennessee were moved out to the 'Great American Desert.' Brainerd Mission Cemetery. [2013]