Saturday, May 19, 2012

Stories, and Projects, and Some Cemeteries

I recently posted a thing on my Facebook account along the lines of complaining that I can't use the same name for all of my projects. Writress Lana Meyer commented that I should just begin calling everything "The Projects." Lana, this is for you.

So Wednesday I spent a few hours at our Scout Group's chartered organization's Cemetery somewhere in Collierish Township. There were like 8 of us painting this fence with a stain that now stains my work jeans.

Friday I spent on an island in the middle of the Parkway West right outside of the Fort Pitt Tunnels planting flowers. Our honor society has this strange tradition of doing this... as well as dragging along all 80 of us. Later that day I worked lighting and stage for a production at school.

Saturday morning I spent with my scout troop out at Chartiers Cemetery at the GAR Plot. For those keeping score at home, I have been working with the local Civil War reenactor group for about a year and a half now, and last year we started this annual Memorial Day project of cleaning up the GAR plot as well as shining up the monument and planting flowers.

The reenactor group had raised money to have the headstones that had sunk into the ground re-set, and as a result, the bottoms of the headstones were dirty. A few of us scrubbed off the dirt and generally made the headstones easier to read.

We also planted flowers at the graves of all of the veterans, as well as generically cleaned up stuff.

I took on the long task of placing a flag at each of the 120-something veterans' graves. I thought this was cool---a Boy Scout laying flags at the graves of the Union soldiers who after the war fought to get an American flag in every public classroom. I also (being my egotistical self) thought... now what would they think? Then it donned on me---a lot of the veterans died before the Scouting Movement started in the US. So, in a strange way, it came full circle.

I also took a pilgrimage around the cemetery containing a PA governor, Myron Cope, a monument to a fatality of the Titanic, and a fatality of a Flood in either California or Florida. Looking around at all of the graves brought me back to John Green video (which can be found here) about going to see a cemetery.

In short, it is amazing to look around and admire those who had gone before you, and to those you don't know... just imagining their stories.

Cemeteries fascinate me just as much as they disturb me. I love to look at the names and imagine the stories, but when you look at the permanence of it all, and the thought that you too will become one of those lost stories... it's unnerving.

But at the same time, in the end, it fascinates me. The least I can do for these people whom I never met nor will ever meet is to place a flag at his grave, or maybe plant a flower, or even read their name aloud.

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