Our family has a long-standing tradition of visiting the
cemeteries where our loved ones and ancestors are interred, which
include three cemeteries in DeKalb County.
In earlier times, fresh cut flowers were placed at the grave
sites. Now artificial arrangements are more the trend, plus potted
plants on shepherd hooks.
I had occasion to visit the North Clinton Cemetery near Waterman
earlier this month and took time to walk among rows of grave
markers with familiar names going back generations.
Taking part in Memorial Day observances used to be more of a
social occasion, where Girl Scouts brought flowers, Boy Scouts
put small flags on veterans graves, and uniformed veterans
of past wars paraded through the grounds followed by a speaker,
concluding with a 21-gun salute and bugler playing taps.
We would see old friends, distant relatives and schoolmates at
the same time. But that was more than a half century ago.
Now in many communities, Memorial Day services often are held
in parks. If they do take place at the cemetery, the crowd is
often sparse. I miss the opportunity to renew old acquaintances
and catch up on family news about those who have moved away.
During my recent visit, I paused at the grave of Mark Simpson,
a decorated World War I soldier. He came home from that war at
age 26, debilitated from the effects of mustard gas poisoning.
The tombstone of Cpl. Mark Simpson of Company A, 129th
Infantry, 33rd Division of the U.S. Army is seen in this photo
at North Clinton Cemetery near Waterman. (This is an old photo
so the date of death for his wife Harriett had not yet been engraved
on the marker.) Cpl. Simpson in uniform about 1917.