Lost and Found

Recently, I found 60 lost people.  Their ages ranged from newborn to 88.  They were all in a remote section of piney woods, quite a ways off the beaten path and had no food, water, or electricity.

The only good thing about their situation is that they didn’t need food, water or electricity.  You see, they didn’t these things because they were all buried in a cemetery in the middle of nowhere.  Off of a small two-land state road, one takes a bumpy black-topped county road.  Off of that is an overgrown trail that you would miss unless, like me, you look for these things and wonder where they go.  I like to see where trails and small roads go and, when I have a little time on my hands, I venture down one.  I figured this one led to a hunting camp.  As I slowly crawled along, I saw a power line clearing, and a meadow or two.  Then there was an abandoned utility company mobile office, almost totally covered with vines and small trees.  Where the “trail” ended, I moved forward enough to turn around, and THERE IT WAS.

Perfectly enclosed by a chain-link fence, was about a quarter-acre cemetery.  No name is erected for this solemn place, no chains on the gate.  The oldest marker is for a doctor; his is a Woodsmen of the World statue and he died in 1919.  The last burial was in 2016 and his only marker is the little foil and plastic name tag the funeral home sticks in the ground when they drop the casket in.  He had barely been covered and the gravel/dirt mixture was caved in so badly that the casket was nearly showing.

As for the other 58 graves, the plastic flowers were so faded you could no longer determine the original colors.  Small trees grew out of some of the resting places of others.  The saddest one of all was a handmade piece of concrete shaped in an oval that had the simple word “baby” scratched into it.  There were 6 veterans there:  2 from WW II, 2 from the Korean war, and 2 from the Viet Nam war.  One of them from the Korean war was only 20 years old and died in Korea, literally shot to pieces in Korea.  He was a local boy.  No one else in his family is buried there.

Someone seems to come every few weeks to mow, but not do any trimming.  No one changes the flowers, obviously.  Or keeps the living bushes trimmed.  Although some of the head stones proudly list several children, it is apparent they do not come visit.  Many of those markers are very expensive, in different colors of marble.  The caskets inside must also reflect the same high dollar show of “love.”  Probably the clothing and jewelry the residents inside are wearing reflect the same values.

For the most part, these burials occurred in the last 30 years.  Where are their people?  A great deal of money went into seeing these folks off in the manner that is considered appropriate nowadays.  So why doesn’t anyone come visit?  Change the flowers on holidays or something?  Put little flags on the veterans’ graves?  I, for one, will take care of that one, and have cleaned theirs.  The one that was caving in has been filled and leveled.  I am searching for family for some of the veterans to at least get permission to care for them.

My point in all this?  You’ve read my opinions on green burials.  This lost cemetery is a solid example of why.  There are 60 bodies pumped full of embalming fluid, laid out in steel caskets, taking up prime ground that can be used for someone that has nothing, and no one cares to come visit them anyway.  The money wasted to put them there could have done something worthy for their rural community (probably tens of thousands of dollars over all).  And no one comes to visit.  Why not a swing in a park?  Or a water fountain in city hall?  Or a tree downtown?  (With plaques of course with their name on it.)  Not a grave in the middle of nowhere.  That no one comes to visit.  That will slowly poison its environment.

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