Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Appleton, Alabama

A Symbol of Home ~ The Bird House:  We often conceptualize the soul as a bird. Well before the Christian Era, in fact, the Egyptians symbolized one aspect of the soul by a bird with a human head. And, Plato reminded us that "the soul takes flight to the world that is invisible but there arriving she is sure of bliss and forever dwells in paradise." So, a bird house in a cemetery makes perfect sense. Perhaps this bird house is meant to be a way station on the soul's flight to heaven. Weaver Cemetery. [2017]


Monday, August 21, 2017

Vineland, New Jersey

A Symbol of Home ~ The Bird House: In bereavement art, birds are often used to symbolize the soul. So, a stationary bird house near a grave may suggest that the soul has a place to stay on earth just a little bit longer. What do you make of the names and dates on this headstone? Vineland Cemetery. [2017]

Friday, August 18, 2017

Falmouth, Virginia

Garden Flags as Aides Memoires:  You know he must have spent many hours at home keeping an eye on the birdhouses (probably more than one!) in his back yard. It's good to know those doves on his tombstone will have a place to nest tonight. New Hope United Methodist Church Cemetery. [2017]

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Gouldtown, New Jersey

Garden Flags as Aides Memoires:  An Indian lies buried here: a member of the Lenni Lenapi tribe. That may mean the owl symbolizes tribal wisdom. The Lenni Lenapi were the original inhabitants of the Delaware Valley, but the dreamcatcher has become a symbol of unity shared by all North American Indians. He probably caught many a dream in that dreamcatcher. Hope so, anyway. Gouldtown Memorial Park. [2013]

Monday, August 14, 2017

Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania

Garden Flags as Aides Memoires:  She loved the farm: the cows, the pigs, the sheep, the goats. She loved the violets that bloomed everywhere in the spring, too. Now, she reminds everybody of the things that made a difference in her life. That just might include her husband, too. Is that him standing out in the pasture? Mechanicsburg Cemetery. [2014]

Friday, August 11, 2017

Big Pool, Maryland

Garden Flags as Aides Memoires:  Welcome. Your family wants to make your new home as much like your old home as possible. Remember the vincas that loved to welcome visitors? Remember the rabbits that used to put on quite a show in the spring? Remember the flag that flew in front of the house? Remember the street lights that turned night into day? And never forget the church in whose graveyard you now lie. St. Paul's United Methodist Church Cemetery. [2015]

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Paris, Kentucky

Garden Flags as Aides Memoires:  "Thank heaven for Little Boys" says this garden flag, which actually finds itself in a small garden. The little master would have had such fun growing up riding all those horses, but he could only stick around 121 days. Still, he was a God-send, a gift from heaven, to which he was called back too soon. Paris is in the heart of the Kentucky Blue Grass. Paris Cemetery. [2015]

Monday, August 7, 2017

Dillsburg, Pennsylvania

Garden Flags as Aides Memoires:  Small decorative flags are becoming ever more common in cemeteries. They are usually chosen to accentuate the virtues of a life well lived. The bereaved use them to bring out the personalities of their loved ones. What does this garden banner say about the person it honors? Patriotic, loved, memorable. The slogan "Always in Our Hearts" seems made for a cemetery, but most garden flags are simply repurposed to make graveyards feel more like home. Dillsburg Cemetery. [2013]

Friday, August 4, 2017

Meridian, Mississippi

The Lone Star Flag is Very Much Alive! The Lone Star Flag is very much alive wherever you find transplanted Texans, including here in Mississippi.This is a group marker. It honors "the men from Texas who are known to be buried here and to all Texans who passed this way." The boldest type is reserved for this, however: "NOTHING IS ENDED UNTIL IT IS FORGOTTEN." What does that mean? That the Civil War isn't (and never will be) over? Rose Hill Cemetery. [2013]


Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Pahrump, Nevada

The Lone Star Flag is Very Much Alive! The Lone Star Flag is very much alive wherever there are transplanted Texans, including here in Nevada. Clearly, this husband, father, and grandfather was a Texan at heart, or maybe a Texan-American. Notice that the the Texas flag flies at the same level as the U.S. flag, almost as if each was an independent country of its own. Flag representations like this are usually reserved for two sovereignties on par with each other. Chief Tecopa Cemetery New West. [2016]

Monday, July 31, 2017

Austin, Texas

The Lone Star Flag is Very Much Alive! The Lone Star Flag is very much alive in cemeteries all over Texas. Here it honors the man who created an organization called Celebrate Texas, which is dedicated to the celebration of Texas Independence Day on March 2. In 1836, Texas issued its own Declaration of Independence: from Mexico. Texas State Cemetery. [2009]


Friday, July 28, 2017

Norfolk, Virginia

The Confederate Battle Flag Lives On:  Thirteen stars imposed on St. Andrew's Cross. The idea of the cross came from Scotland and the deep history of Christian Europe. The idea of the stars came directly from the flag of the United States of America. There is one theory of the Civil War that suggests it is nothing more than the rivalry between the English and the Scots transplanted to the New World. The North was settled primarily by migrants from England, and the South was settled primarily by the Scotch-Irish from Northern Ireland. Cedar Grove Cemetery. [2012]


Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Bealeton, Virginia

The Confederate Battle Flag Lives On:  He surely didn't fight in the Civil War, but his Confederate battle flag will live on as long as the granite survives. Don't you wish the flag were accurate, though? It has 14 stars rather than 13. Although the C.S.A. had only 11 member states, the battle flag (a part of the C.S.A. flag after 1863) had 13 stars. History says that the other two starts were for two of the border states. Nonsense! There had to be 13 stars, no less, because the first flag of the United States of America had 13, one for each of the original states. Parity achieved! Cedar Grove Cemetery. [2010]


Monday, July 24, 2017

Macon, Georgia

The Confederate Battle Flag Lives On:  The Confederate battle flag, like death itself, serves as a great equalizer. It marks the graves of Johnny Rebs and Generals as well. Here's the grave of a General who didn't survive the Civil War. He died at the Battle of Port Gibson, with only 30 years to his credit. Though young when he died, he is honored with an historical marker right beside his grave. Oak Ridge Cemetery. [2015]



Friday, July 21, 2017

Waycross, Georgia

The Confederate Battle Flag Lives On:  He was born in 1841, so he would have been in his prime, his early 20s, when he served in the Civil War. With the first name John, he literally was a "Johnny Reb." He obviously survived, and the records say he became a minister in the Presbyterian Church. His grave boasts a foot stone and a body stone in a rather unusual combination. The body stones in this section of the cemetery may be mid-20th century additions to the landscape. Could they go back to the Civil War centennial in the 1960s? Oakland Cemetery. [2007]


Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Frederick, Maryland

The Confederate Battle Flag Lives On:  In the Confederate section of Frederick's famous rural cemetery, the battle flag seems an appropriate honor for those who died in the Battle of Antietam or as a result of wounds sustained there. These markers honor both known and unknown soldiers. The original headstones have been supplemented by new ones: only the date of death is recorded. All of these died in September 1862. Mt. Olivet Cemetery. [2010]


Monday, July 17, 2017

Hampton,Virginia

The Confederate Battle Flag Lives On:  On the left is what everyone thinks is the official flag of the Confederate States of America. On the right is the flag that actually was the official flag of the Confederacy, or at least the earliest one of them. It was known as the "stars and bars" and was judged to be too much like the "stars and stripes" for easy differentiation when used in battle. The stone says "Our Confederate Dead," but it could as easily say "Confederate States of America," which was born in 1861 and died in 1865. Oakland Cemetery. [2012]

Friday, July 14, 2017

Baton Rouge, Louisiana

The Confederate Battle Flag Lives On:  Here lies a woman who was born two generations after the Civil War, yet she carries a Confederate battle flag on her headstone. She probably didn't see it as a symbol of hate, but that it what is has become. Even the U.S. Congress, in 2016, passed legislation banning its use in national cemeteries. Magnolia Cemetery. [2011]

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Milledgeville, Georgia

The Confederate Battle Flag Lives On:  Here lies a soldier who fought in the Civil War. He has an old headstone from the 19th century and a new one from the 20th century. He also has a Confederate battle flag marking his grave. It is likely that the new headstone and the battle flag are meant not to keep his memory alive, but to keep the memory of the Civil War itself alive. Make sure you catch the name of the cemetery. Memory Hill Cemetery. [2015]

Monday, July 10, 2017

Chester, Virginia

The Confederate Battle Flag Lives On:  And, you can find it in cemeteries, especially those in the old Confederate States of America. This isn't the flag of the Confederacy, which had three official flags, but rather a flag of battle. Its life ended with the end of the rebellion in 1865, but it was resurrected as a symbol of lost identity during the second half of the 20th century. Sunset Memorial Park. [2007]

Friday, July 7, 2017

Louisville, Kentucky

Celebrating the Flag and the Fourth with Music:  Independence Day stirs feelings of patriotism even in cemeteries, where American flags seem to be the perfect complement to holiday celebrations. When you see them, you may think of some [questionably] patriotic tunes that fit the mood of the day. What's this one?
     "But your flag decal won't get you
     Into Heaven any more,
     They're already overcrowded
     From your dirty little war.
     Now Jesus don't like killin'
     No matter what the reason for,
     And your flog decal won't get you
     Into Heaven any more."
Recognize it? If not click here. Evergreen Cemetery. [2016]

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Marion, Illinois

Celebrating the Flag and the Fourth with Music:  Independence Day stirs feelings of patriotism even in cemeteries, where American flags seem to be the perfect complement to holiday celebrations. When you see them, you may think of some patriotic tunes that fit the mood of the day. What's this one?
     "Tonight I dare you to dream
     Go on to believe impossible things
     Whenever anybody says
     There's anything we can't do
     I mean after all
     There's an American flag on the moon"
 Recognize it? If not click here. Marion City Cemetery. [2015]

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Zanesville, Ohio

Celebrating the Flag and the Fourth with Music:  Independence Day stirs feelings of patriotism even in cemeteries, where American flags seem to be the perfect complement to holiday celebrations. When you see them, you may think of some patriotic tunes that fit the mood of the day. What's this one?
      "You're a grand old flag,
     You're a high flying flag
     And forever in peace may you wave.
     You're the emblem of
     The land I love,
     The home of the free and the brave."
Recognize it? If not click here. Woodland Cemetery. [2013]


Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Guymon, Oklahoma

Celebrating the Flag and the Fourth with Music:  Independence Day stirs feelings of patriotism even in cemeteries, where American flags seem to be the perfect complement to holiday celebrations. When you see them, you may think of some patriotic tunes that fit the mood of the day. What's this one?
     "Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight,
     O'er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming?
     And the rockets red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
     Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.
     Oh, say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
     O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?
Recognize it? If not click here. Elmhurst Cemetery. [2013]

Monday, July 3, 2017

Beckley, West Virginia

Celebrating the Flag and the Fourth with Music:  Independence Day stirs feelings of patriotism even in cemeteries, where American flags seem to be the perfect complement to holiday celebrations. When you see them, you may think of some patriotic tunes that fit the mood of the day. What's this one?
     "She's been burned, dishonored, denied an' refused
     And the government for which she stands
     Has been scandalized throughout the land
     And she's getting thread bare, and she's wearin' thin
     But she's in good shape for the shape she's in
     'Cause she's been through the fire before
     And I believe she can take a whole lot more"
Recognize it? If not click here. Blue Ridge Memorial Gardens. [2014]

Friday, June 30, 2017

Port Republic, New Jersey

Commemorating Historic Cemeteries:  Don't let the form of the marker fool you. St. Paul's may be a historical cemetery, but this is not a historical marker. Instead, it's a lament for the dead, from Mom. A list of "I miss you's" and "I thank you's" is joined by: "I can still hear you like it was yesterday. The last time you sang a solo at the Sony E-Center, your voice was so powerful and commanding....Happy tears were streaming down my face....I was so proud." St. Paul's United Methodist Church Cemetery. [2015]

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Brewton, Alabama

Commemorating Historic Cemeteries:  There are "union cemeteries" all across the United States, and most have nothing to do with Union troops of the Civil War. So, why is the name Union applied to so many burial grounds? Perhaps to set them apart from the sectarian cemeteries that were run by (and often adjacent to) churches. Methodist, Presbyterian, Baptist: all could be buried in a union cemetery. Some folk, however, may not have been welcome, and that is the type of information never mentioned on historical markers. Union Cemetery. [2017]

Monday, June 26, 2017

Brunswick, Georgia

Commemorating Historic Cemeteries:  The nineteenth century saw the rise of industrial economies and the concomitant expansion of city populations. That meant more people were dying in cities, too. So many, in fact, that the old church yards soon ran out of space. Voila! The rural cemetery, or garden cemetery, was born. The first was on the outskirts of Paris. By 1838, the rural cemetery movement had reached Brunswick, Georgia, making Brunswick a little more like Paris! Buried here were "over 100 Civil War Veterans," including Capt. Douglas Risley, who went on to found the city's first school for African Americans. The next question, however, is not answered by the historical market: How many of the students who attended his school were actually buried here with him? Oak Grove Cemetery. [2010]

Friday, June 23, 2017

Richmond, Virginia

Commemorating Historic Cemeteries:  Six cemeteries (associated with different burial societies) are to be found on Barton Heights. The earliest dates to 1815. Compare that date to the year this historical marker was erected:1998. It took until the late 20th century for historical markers to begin commemorating the peoples and places of African-American history. Before that, the only history worth noting was what happened during the Civil War! Whit Monday is seven weeks after Easter Monday; it is the second day of Pentecost. Barton Heights Cemeteries. [2014]

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Franklin, Tennessee

Commemorating Historic Cemeteries:  With the American and French Revolutions as his models, a slave named Toussaint L'Ouverture led the rebellion that resulted in Haiti's independence in 1804. Of course, he is not buried here, but his memory is kept alive by virtue of a Tennessee historical marker. Who is buried here? People of African descent, many nameless, who, by virtue of the segregated society in which they lived, needed a burying place of their own. Toussaint L'Ouverture Cemetery. [2010]

Monday, June 19, 2017

Austin, Texas

Commemorating Historic Cemeteries:  People buried here may be of historical significance, but so is the cemetery itself. That's why it has a historical marker of its own. This plot of land was acquired in the 1920s by a private cemetery corporation, then by the city of Austin. Since then, chunks have been sliced off for other purposes, like the building of a rec center. Who's the most famous person buried here? Author James A. Michener.  How would we know such things if it were not for the historical marker? Austin Memorial Park Cemetery. [2015]

Friday, June 16, 2017

Sissonville, West Virginia

Pets at Peace: "Your paws left prints on our hearts." Yes, they did, Stretch! In fact, we still make sure there are flowers at your grave. What a Christmas present you were! Floral Hills Cemetery. [2017]

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Sissonville, West Virginia

Pets at Peace:  Merrill Fisher wrote the verses that welcome visitors to the pet precinct of Floral Hills: ". . . He is sadly missed, but we are so much better for his having shared his life with us. We can think of nothing, and perhaps no one, that has better taught us to give and receive love openly, unselfishly, and unashamedly, as this one small furry friend." Mr. Fisher must have had Tobby in mind. Floral Hills Cemetery. [2017]

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Sissonville, West Virginia

Pets at Peace:  A cat with a first, middle, and last name: Another example of anthropomorphism. And, if you ask yourself if pets have souls (anthropomorphism once again!), the answer here would be yes. The butterfly is usually employed to symbolize the soul. Floral Hills Cemetery. [2017]

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Sissonville, West Virginia

Pets at Peace:  Meet Moonpie! Or, at least a life-sized effigy. "Our Angel" must have been very much a part of the family, so beloved his masters couldn't quite let go. Now, imagine a cemetery for humans where life-sized statues of the deceased stood at the foot of every grave. Floral Hills Cemetery. [2017]

Monday, June 12, 2017

Sissonville, West Virginia

Pets at Peace:  Squint a little bit and you might discern that this is no human grave. Rather, two beloved pets are buried here. Ever hear of anthropomorphism? Here's an example. A section of the cemetery has been set aside for pets. Floral Hills Cemetery. [2017]

Friday, June 9, 2017

Charlton, Massachusetts

Say Goodbye to Your Pastor:  That doesn't mean send him or her off to the cemetery; it just means that your old pastor may have to move on this month to a new charge. In the United Methodist Church, ministers serve at the pleasure of the Bishop. They are assigned to churches, not hired by them. The minister buried here would have served under the same rules, even though he served the Methodist Episcopal Church. Itinerating is a deeply-embedded Wesleyan tradition. As for the medallion: It proclaims the preacher buried here to be a Veteran of the Cross. Union Cemetery. [2013]


Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Lewisburg, West Virginia

Say Goodbye to Your Pastor: Horses helped the early Methodist church in America adapt to a rapidly expanding rural frontier. Horses gave circuit riders the mobility they needed to become more like their mentor, John Wesley, who famously said:  "I look upon the whole world as my parish." See the grid of latitude and longitude in the medallion's background? It symbolizes the world. Rosewood Cemetery. [2016]