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Having grown up next to a cemetery, I've always had a fascination for the mysteries of the graveyard. I'd watch the rituals surrounding the funeral mass and solemn procession to the cemetery in the churchyard. What was this ceremony of taking relatives and neighbors to their final resting place?

At a young age, there was more curiosity than understanding of the customary bell ringing that accompanied the procession the half block to the gravesite. I would watch from my window as groups of people gathered tightly under a crimson tent where the deceased had been placed. Flowers, tears, holy water and a priest with a train of altar boys marked those last moments.

It wasn't until years later that I found an appreciation for the annual treks to the cemeteries on Memorial Day. The walking of the rows, pausing frequently to remember the life of one who's left us, became less of a burden and more of a history lesson. We would linger at he gravesites of relatives and friends to say a silent prayer and leave a fresh sprig of flowers which would mark the site for the coming Summer. Small American flags would also be placed on the graves of our veterans.

My dad was the historian in our family. At each stop, he would relate the things we should remember about that person. How we were related, a bit about their life and always a light-hearted something that would allow us to remember them with love.

Find A Grave has allowed me to continue this tradition online so all who can't travel and future generations can take part in remembering their loved ones' history and build their own family trees.


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