Thursday, May 21, 2015

Memorial Day in an it's-all-about-me world

It's 39 degrees here this morning and the weekend forecast calls for day-time highs in the 70s, so it looks like it's going to be a cool and most likely damp Memorial Day. Those of us who plan to staff the shelter house in the Chariton Cemetery over the weekend probably would be advised to dress in layers.

The shelter will be open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Sunday and Monday. Volunteers from the Lucas County Genealogical Society and the Commission will take turns keeping it open, visiting with guests, helping when we can to locate graves and offering lemonade and cookies.

It's the best chance of the year to take a look inside the little brick building, complete with fireplace, added  in 1929 as part of a huge redevelopment project that commenced after the city purchased the cemetery from the Stanton family in 1924 and set about dealing with years of neglect. It's an interesting little building with a big front porch that on warm days at least is a great place to sit. Even the wicker furniture inside is original.


It's been chilly (for late May) the last few days, which I don't really mind. But it felt better inside Ellis Greenhouse yesterday (with exterior doors closed against a brisk north wind) than it did outside, where hardier plants are displayed.

I picked up a couple of planters --- and the Ellis staff does a tremendous job with these --- to take out to Salem on Friday. They'll stay out there over the weekend, then come back into town so that the contents can be replanted for a long summer of bloom.

That's something my late mother, who had an aversion to artificial flowers, would approve of. Her strategy was to cut fresh flowers in the garden on the morning graves were to be decorated. That strategy also relieved cemetery caretakers of the need to remove faded and frayed artificial arrangements, bag them up and haul them away to the landfill.

She also was among the last of a long line of folks who, once the dust of a recent burial had settled, planted a peony at the head of the grave. Most cemeteries discourage that now, but it's another tradition I like --- although it's easy to understand why the practice is discouraged in these days of weed-whackers and obsession with neatly clipped.


Anyhow, enjoy the weekend and remember the departed fondly. But keep in mind that the holiday developed in the first place after the Civil War to honor those who had died in service to their country with honors for those who had served honorably, then died later, added as a the years passed. Other wars have followed and many more have served and died.

We live in an it's-all-about-me culture, but Memorial Day was intended to be all about them.

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