Paying visit to cemetery leaves much to wonder
Late last month, I visited my parents in Altoona.
The old folks live in an even older farmhouse, which dates back to the 1840s and some of the earliest days of this all-but-forgotten railroad city in southern Pennsylvania.
Between my parents’ home and Brush Mountain, and stretching northward around my old neighborhood of Hileman Heights, is Calvary Cemetery, one of the oldest cemeteries in Altoona.
Sunday morning, while the fog still blanketed the sleepy hillsides, I entered the cemetery to pay my respects.
Row upon rows of marble memorialized the past of Altoona.
There were many graves decorated in the patriotic colors of yesteryear’s Decoration Day. Even more striking were the hundreds, if not thousands, of miniature flags representing the years of service rendered by these heroes.
As I wandered reading the names on these tombstones; I wondered …
Do the families still remember those interred here?
Are their sacrifices, lives, joys and successes remembered and honored?
Are their struggles, disappointments and failures forgotten?
I wondered …
Would they be pleased with our stewardship of the land for which they fought, bled and died?
Would they be pleased with these days of busyness, yet little accomplishment?
Would they wonder at the lack of honest labor and the satisfying fatigue of a job well done?
Would they like the miracles of air conditioning, TV, automobiles, cell phones and all the conveniences we take for granted that only seem to foster separation, mistrust and even hate of those around us?
Would they miss a Coca-Cola or watermelon shared in the shade of a big front porch on those dog days of August?
Would they wonder at the lack of neighborhood children traipsing from house to house, being watched by so many mothers with nary a concern if one needed (and received) discipline?
Would they long for the glory days of Lakemont Park, Cricket Field and sandlot baseball?
Would they wonder at our woeful lack of knowledge about American history, government and civics?
Even with our ignorance, would they wonder at our insistence upon ever-expanding personal rights and liberties, without responsibilities or consequences?
I wondered …
And I grieved.