Wednesday, June 30, 2010

What's To Become of Your Final Resting Place? 10-012

     Every day, every hour and every minute, our lives in some way create or influence changes in our families, friends, neighborhoods, our country and sometimes even the world. Most of the time we don't even know it happened.
     Every word we speak and every action we take has some consequences or affects on someone or something, whether at that very moment or years down the road or even far removed from our present situation.
     Abraham Lincoln was a very wise, learned and articulate man but even he did not know the affects that his life and his words would have even now 150 years later. His Gettysburg Address with the words "The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here..." are still widely memorized and quoted today.
      Hitler, bent on conquering Europe and beyond, killed people by the millions. Millions of others were persecuted and tortured. The effects of this rampage is still felt today in the lives of survivors and families of those who died more than 70 years ago.
     An act of war or terror such as Pearl Harbor or The World Trade Center destruction can send repercussions around the world that not only call for reaction but can change our feelings and opinions about a whole group of people whether justified or not. Our internal fears, following an incident, cause us to loose trust. Our lives, without our realizing it, are changed forever even though we are not directly involved and are far from the incident.
     It doesn't take something dramatic to create change. Little things happen every day that ultimately affect us in larger ways down the road. As we grow from a child to adulthood our peers create changes in us through everything they say and do. A child learns by the examples of others and eventually imparts themselves on future generations because of the way we reacted to today's situations. A father, mother or friend's advice can send us down a different path in our lives. Think about it. What would our lives be like today and how many other people would be affected if we had taken the other path?
     Even a small rumor started whether true or not can cause change in people's lives.
     Thomas Edison could have never imagined how big an effect his invention of the simple light bulb would have in the home and industry.
     How will we be remembered? Will anyone even care? What changes did our life create? All are  determined by what we as individuals and others say and do in our lives.
     In the end where will our final resting place be? Will it be a huge monument that the public come to view or a humble stone or plaque that occasionally family and friends come to visit? It doesn't matter which way it happens, our lives will have changed the world in ways we can't imagine.
     Why, if our lives are so important and create so much change in those around us, have we lost so much respect for the final resting place of those who have gone before us?
     I completely understand when, because of the remote locations and and the lack of available funds for upkeep, many cemeteries are left to run down and are forgotten. What is really disturbing to me though is intentional destruction of our cemeteries. Vandalism of the stones has become more and more of an occurrence. Theft of older brass vases from graves just for the purpose of resale of the metal is occurring. Actual theft of stones is occurring for who knows what purpose. My GGG grandfather's headstone is one of these. Society has always had these types of individuals and they will always be there.
     But recently I stumbled upon a new and more destructive element that has hit our larger cemeteries today. And it is all legal.
     I visited a very large local cemetery, where I had every intention of being buried myself. The purpose for my visit was to locate a couple family plots. When I inquired at the office, I was informed that I had to pay for the information I was requesting. Needless to say I was absolutely livid. I found out that this standard was coming down from the "corporation" that owned this cemetery and others, both locally and in other areas of the country. I was so upset I didn't even think to ask how much. Later on as my wife and I were trying to find these graves on our own, more evidence of corporate greed began to surface. The roads through the cemetery are completely falling apart. A lack of concern or respect for the graves themselves is quite evident. Heavy equipment has been run over the thick metal grave plaques and left them bowed like a quarter moon. Plaques are getting sunken in the ground by time or the running over with equipment. No repairs are being made whatsoever. Mowing is the only thing done. Vases are broken and lying around. Small death date plaques added after the death are loose or not attached. Families are not being notified of damage because they have been in this condition for quite a while. Most people have no idea how many of our cemeteries and funeral parlors are being gobbled up by corporations simply for the cash flow that is available. All you get from them are letters and telemarketing calls trying to sell you everything under the sun for your cemetery plots to rake in the money as quickly as possible. On top of all of this I have found nowhere in their Internet listings or advertisements who this corporation actually is. They have hid their identity very well from the public. These is supposed to be a perpetual care cemeteries that we have trusted our loved ones to.
     If you have purchased lots at any cemetery, I would advise you to take a closer look at your final resting place. Corporate greed in search of  the all mighty dollar is taking our cemeteries for everything they can get without giving back any of the perpetual care they have promised.
     What's to become of YOUR final resting place, when there is nothing more for the corporations to take and they pull out?
    ........Today I purchased plots at my local church cemetery. A hundred years from now there may still be no one to care for my plot. At least here people there will care about my resting place until the money for upkeep runs out naturally, instead of being skimmed off by the greedy.

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