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Consider this quote from Abe Lincoln

"America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves."

 

 

Iíve always loved to stroll through cemeteries. From the time I was old enough to drive there is nothing Iíve enjoyed more than making a trip somewhere to find one and stopping to walk through the stones reading and wondering about the people resting there.

Iím quite sure this fascination with them came from being loaded up in the old Plymouth Fury (also known as the Furry Plymouth) by my grandparents and being brought along on washing duty when it was times to do the rounds for Memorial Day. Grandma would load up flowers she had cut from the garden and we boys would be in charge of the rags and milk jugs filled full of water. Our job was to pull the grass and wash the stones carefully as grandma trimmed the flowers to set them in the vases, or an old soup can dug into the ground when there wasnít.

It was on these trips that I learned the names and stories of my relatives. Even through we may not have had pictures to look at, there was always just a little time for some exploring as Grandma would try to remember just where that long forgotten cousin was and we boys would take the name and scatter through the stones looking.

Over Memorial Day my dear friend Kelli came to Dexter to place flowers on the grave of her grandparents and we walked and talked for a bit about the people we knew. There were stories shared, laughs and even a few silent tears as we walked, looking through the stones for old neighbors and friends from our youth.

Iíve made a couple of trips back out since then. Always looking to put a story with the names, to see where they fit into the history of this place. Thereís the first postmaster, old families with big money, plain folk, nurses, doctors, lawyers, and a few odd ones that I donít know stories of yet. The stones change with time. They speak to me with their words, the simple poetic stanzas and the engraved symbols of items important to the deceased.

The symbols in stone as I like to call them seem to mark things important in the lives of these people. Perhaps it was membership, in the Masons, the GAR. Perhaps it was their favorite team, or something that tied their memory to who they were. A tractor, an airplane, an apple. Each of those items gives us just a glimpse of who these people were, the lives they led, and set us on a course of wonder wishing we knew more about them.

It made me think for a bit what I would want on mine. I hadnít ever really given it much thought. Oh sure Iíve got a friend who we tease about putting the initials ďPTDSĒ on her stone, which is an inside joke so very few people would know, but when it comes down to it, the thing you put on there will be the tribute to your life that lasts the longest. The thing that will identify you long after anyone with a direct memory of your life is gone. Kind of like picking out a tattoo I guess. What one thing would sum up my time on this earth? What one thing would completely define who I am or the path Iíve gone down? Is there even such a thing?

I once heard a man speak about living your dash. The life you live between the dates on your headstone. Perhaps in the long run the dash is made up of everything we go through, our failures and our triumphs. All the things that each of us go through in our own ways. Maybe thatís all we really need? We live our lives and take our place in history, leaving just a name for someone curious enough in one hundred years to stop for a moment, and wonder about you and I, just as we wonder about those who have come before us.

See you next week. Remember, weíre all in this together.