April is almost here and it’s time to start thinking and planning for Memorial Day weekend or a day whenever you can do what I challenge everyone to do. Our older cemeteries are being taken over by Mother Nature because no one cares anymore. What has happened to us?
This used to happen every year during Memorial Day weekend to most cemeteries all over Kentucky. Age, death, family out of state and lazy young kids have helped this to fade away, although in some families, people still do their family cemeteries. I’m talking about those cemeteries we have forgotten and haven’t been visited in 20, 30 or 40 years or more in some cases.
It’s time for the next generation to take over and continue with these traditions and our older folks need to start training our young to respect their heritage and donate a day to clean up cemeteries that are overgrown and disappearing at what I consider an alarming rate.
A few hours and one day is all we need just once a year! Pick a cemetery and start contacting people who are able to walk up the hills and hollows to clean up. Have that person contact another and so on. Just five people who can, will do unbelievable things, and when done you will say, “Wow! It wasn’t as hard as you thought!”
1) Contact landowner or closest neighbor to the cemetery and let them know what you plan on doing. Make a list of names to call. Recruit churches. Have out of state family come visit you and help with this. Get some young healthy boys to lift and pick heavy objects up.
2) Make a list of needed items
3) Mower, saws, loping shears, weed eaters, gas for the machines, (10-15 dollars of gas per graveyard) etc.: ( make sure the mowers are old beaters as to not damage a good mower on some of these cemeteries that are real overgrown set them to cut high at first).
4) Pick a time and day — 9 a.m. to noon or to 4 p.m. — it doesn’t have to be an all-day thing.
5) Bring on the food. Make it a picnic as they did before.
6) If you can help repair stones or reset them up (smaller stones only for safety reasons) make a check list of what to bring. Stiff brushes and water. Liquid nails for cement and make sure it’s a glue. Bring towels as not to make a mess on the stone. No soap or bleach that will eat the stones up. Maybe a bit of paint to color the wording of the stone in so they can be read better. You’ll need a good steady handed person for this one. Make it neat.
7) Someone to take pictures and post in the Newspaper or on Facebook. Make this an event and hopefully an annual thing. Call the local newspaper and have them come out and do a story. Or you write down what happened and send pictures with it to the newspaper.
Pick one cemetery, two, three or whatever! It’s not a job, It’s a duty for we are what our ancestors made us! We are what we are because of them. They would be the first to tell us to do it and take care of our friends graves as well! Just one day, just one cemetery, just a little goes a long way. You might only do half of a cemetery. That’s ok, do the rest later. Makes plans now. It’s a long way between now and April, May or whenever.