Dear Editor,

As we celebrated Memorial Day, we honored those who died in battle or after injuries sustained in battle. As I drove through Evergreen Cemetery I was happy to see the flags that were placed on veterans graves to honor them. We must never forget the sacrifices that veterans have made and the sacrifices that current military men and women are making for our freedom. Some fought during wars, some did not, but they all deserve our respect and gratitude.

I also saw the Civil War Soldiers' tombstone that was damaged in 2014. Now, as I did when it happened, wondered why anyone would want to cause damage to a tombstone or a cemetery. To me, a cemetery is a sacred place that should be respected. But sadly cemeteries and tombstones are damaged all too often.

I have walked several cemeteries looking for the graves of my ancestors. I may know they are buried in a particular cemetery but I can't seem to find their stone. As I walk I read stone after stone, wondering about the person laid to rest there. What was their life like, where did they live, did they have children, what was their occupation or where is their family now? And I think about my relatives. How precious they were to me. I know it's just their body there, their soul isn't there. The person I knew them to be isn't there. Just their earthly body. But it brings me comfort to be able to visit their grave.

What if you went to visit the grave of a relative and found the gravestone damaged? Wouldn't you be hurt? Would you feel like they damaged a part of you? Trampled on your heart? What about the descendants of those Civil War Veterans that had their stones damaged? How do you think they felt?

A lot of soldiers never made it home. They were MIA and never found, or many were buried in graves on battlefields. Their descendants don't know where their bodies are buried. Or maybe they were brought home and buried in a small cemetery on their family's farm. Having a family plot on your land was not that unusual "back in the day."

Consider this: One day while doing genealogy research you find where one of your ancestors is buried. Maybe it is a great, great, great grandfather. You decide to go see the cemetery, maybe driving many hours, to get there. But when you get to the location there is no cemetery. No stones anywhere. The cemetery is gone. Nothing there but a field of crops, or maybe it's a pasture, or overgrown with trees and brush. You think maybe you didn't get the right location, so you check again. But this is the correct location! Why is there no cemetery? What happened to it? How could it just disappear?

You then go in search of someone that may know where the cemetery is. Then you hear stories, true or untrue, you don't know. All you know for sure is that the cemetery is not there. Is your great, great, great grandfather under that crop? Were the bodies moved? Why doesn't anyone seem to know? Are there no records? Where are they?!

How would that make you feel? What if he was a Civil War Veteran? Fought for our country, for our freedom and he has been disrespected and ignored as if his life meant nothing? Would you be upset, hurt and bewildered?

Quite a few old cemeteries are gone. Why?? Where are those that were put to rest there?

Rose Rouse


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