News from the Tennessee Valley Opinion


Survivors have obligation to maintain old cemeteries

One of the unwritten compacts between generations is that the living will bury the dead and give their gravesites reasonable upkeep.

"Perpetual care," in many cases, depends on more than a legal contract, a business deal with the cemetery owner.

Churches with adjoining cemeteries do the required maintenance, but many rural burial places unfortunately go back to nature once the church moves.

What happened at Old Prospect Cemetery in Lawrence County recently is shameful. Vandals came in and smashed tombs and headstones after members of the county historical society led a successful effort to reclaim the 2.4-acre cemetery in Landersville that once had a church on the site and a school nearby.

Old Prospect Cemetery is important to Birmingham resident Sunni Montgomery who has relatives buried there. She's a member of the historical society and is offering a $1,000 reward for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of the vandals.

Harold "Red" Cole who painstakingly repaired some headstones after workers reclaimed the cemetery last year called the vandalism "low down."

He's right.

But the reason that neglect and vandalism of old cemeteries happen may be that we don't always connect with those buried there.

Old cemeteries are full of history. A simple directory posted outside these places that lists the names of those buried there and their place in history might inspire more reverence.

Perhaps if there was an easier way to know that Old Prospect Cemetery has the graves of men who fought in the War of 1812, the Civil War and World War I, we might better keep that unwritten compact between generations.

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