May 30, 2011

Cemetery Etiquette

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We’re going to the Veteran’s cemetery today, Memorial Day, to just walk, and pay attention to the parade and ceremony to the extent we want to, while reading tombstones. We’ve done that before. I’ve always enjoyed walking in cemeteries and reading the tombstones. We (military kids) weren’t supposed to walk in the cemeteries when we lived in Japan (I was 14) it was so close after WWII, and both the military leaders and the Japanese were worried about bereaved ‘losing it’ with the 'enemy' walking in the sacred areas. I did walk in some cemeteries though, even in Japan, to a limited extent, keeping in mind the feelings of the very gracious Japanese. In Germany, there were also similar restrictions on foreigners, and even, stateside, we need solitude in the places we put our friends and family to rest.

In Egypt, people approached me and asked about our burial customs. I found the graves in Berlin to be particularly poignant. The losers in WWII were not allowed to honor their dead, though those visits took place many years after WWII. Right or wrong in conflict, people need to be able to honor their dead.

Posted by Peggy S. Hedrick at 7:29am

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Years ago I discovered cemeteries as an airline pilot and bird watcher on layovers, and have always been fascinated by the family histories revealed in the inscriptions. Oddly enough, I have always felt at ease and peaceful strolling through a cemetery on a beautiful day….. They are often filled with migratory birds, and are great places to get away from the crowds in cities. There was sometimes an uncomfortable moment the next day, though, when a fellow crew member would enquire how I spent the time on my layover, and then exclaim….."You walked in the cemetery to look at birds!?"
Posted by Wally Rees on 5/30/2011 at 8:41pm
You opened a door in that fellow crew member’s mind and I wouldn’t be surprised if (s)he hadn’t passed us in a cemetery stroll after the comment was made..
Posted by Peggy on 5/31/2011 at 6:55am