Monday, November 30, 2015

Knapp, Wisconsin

X is for Xiong:  He was head of his village in Laos when he was 28. He left his village (probably the one on his headstone) when he was 58; the year was 1975. The Hmong had been loyal to the Americans in the Vietnam War and were rewarded with an airlift (see it?) and resettlement in the United States. They came as refugees and became loyal American citizens. Now, to refugees, the United States is on the verge of saying 'no'. Forest Hill Cemetery. [2012]

Friday, November 27, 2015

Alexandria, Kentucky

Y is for Yana:  Cemetery landscapes are laden with symbols inherited from the ancient Greeks, to whom Americans trace their roots as a democracy. The urn is one of those symbols. It was used to contain the ashes of the dead. Problem: The Greeks were pagans. The concept of "ashes to ashes and dust to dust," however, has deep Biblical roots (Gen 3:19 and 18:27; Job 30:19). It's a reminder of the mortality of the body and, by contrast, the everlasting life of the soul. Alexandria Cemetery. [2013]

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Montgomery, Alabama

Z is for Zelen:  Here lies one of God's chosen people. No, not because she is Jewish, but because she is among the world's Zs. There is something special about having a family name that starts with the last letter of the alphabet, so special that only God could be responsible for bestowing the honor. Whatever your last name is, it's part of your identity, something that makes you unique. And, that's something to be thankful for. Greenwood Cemetery. [2013]

Friday, November 20, 2015

Leesburg, Virginia

Full-Color Dual Patriotism:   Recognize the flag (and the loyalties) on this one? If not, you're sure to recognize the language: it says "Rest in Peace." In the entire world, only a million people could translate it for you. Does the bio-blurb mean that Distance Learning in the United States has Estonian roots? Union Cemetery. [2014]

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Camden, Delaware

Full-Color Dual Patriotism:  Let's write the script for this one:  He went off to World War II, found himself stationed in Britain, met a girl barely old enough to get married, brought her back to the states, and lived happily ever after. Sixty-three years of wedlock: an inspiration to us all. Did you pick up on the symbolism of the rose? Sharon Hills Odd Fellows Cemetery. [2015]

Monday, November 16, 2015

Laramie, Wyoming

Full-Color Dual Patriotism:  Here's a departed thirty-something with one foot in the United States, one foot in Canada, and a final resting place in Wyoming. Perhaps dual allegiance ought to be encouraged rather than seen as a threat to American patriotism. Not that Canada is a threat, but think of how many foreign flags might be interpreted in just that way if they appeared in a context like this. Green Hill Cemetery. [2013]

Friday, November 13, 2015

Blanding, Utah

Full-Color Patriotism:  Ever see a blue sky? Ever see a red, white, and blue sky?  He did: in his heart. And, now it's on his headstone. Would you expect to find such accentuated patriotism where someone of Native American heritage (judging from the name) is buried? Blanding City Cemetery. [2013]

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Miami, Florida

Full-Color Patriotism:  The name is not only Hispanic, it's Cuban. But the headstone features not a Cuban flag, but the Stars and Stripes. Somebody wanted all future generations to know where his loyalties lay. He was born in 1953; he could have been brought by his mother to American shores after the Cuban Revolution. When he grew up, he fought for his adopted country, so today we honor him and all veterans. It's Veterans Day. Woodlawn Park Cemetery. [2014]

Monday, November 9, 2015

Laramie, Wyoming

Full-Color Patriotism:  Neither he nor the flag is at rest. He's running and the flag is fluttering. These pictorial elements contradict the usual message of cemetery landscapes, which often shout:  "Rest in Peace." Green Hill Cemetery. [2013]

Friday, November 6, 2015

Moab, Utah

Eternal Rest:   "A chapter completed, a page turned, a life well-lived, a rest well-earned." It seems perfectly tailored to both the end of life and America's mystical reverence for work. Grand Valley Cemetery. [2013]

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Lakeland, Florida

Eternal Rest:  "I have done my work and now I am resting with Jesus" is the message on this headstone. In the old Germanic language, rest was used as a measure of distance, like a mile, after which one rested. That seems to be the sense communicated here. Lakeview Cemetery. [2014]

Monday, November 2, 2015

Amelia, Ohio

Eternal Rest:  "Rest in Peace" may be the most frequent short epitaph on cemetery landscapes, but the theme of rest allows itself to be interpreted in other ways, too.  Here is someone who is "At Rest" and honored today, for today is All Souls' Day, a time to remember the faithful departed. The use of At Rest to refer to the dead originated in the 14th century. Former IOOF Cemetery. [2014]