Since 1876 the Cannon Falls Beacon has covered almost every happening in town and the surrounding townships, including two counties that border the city limits.
After checking the obituaries, I usually turn to the ‘Yesteryear’ full-page recapitulation of area news stories from 15, 25, 50, 75 and 100 years ago, where I often find a person, place or event that sparks a special memory.
We’ve been able to do some reaching-back stories in this all-new EP Local News, but we don’t have a continuous, uninterrupted archive from which to draw.
Memorial Day beckons us to very special community archives for sacred remembering when we visit the graves of loved ones in the cemeteries.
Last week’s Beacon announced an all-day workshop sponsored by the Goodhue County Historical Society that caught my attention and amazed me on the subject of tombstone preservation and upkeep. It was a classroom experience at the county history center, but also included a hands-on session outside at a local cemetery, aimed at cemetery officials, genealogy enthusiasts and history buffs.
Regrettably, I could not attend the class, but can you imagine anything more important on Memorial Day than giving attention to the proper and loving care and upkeep of gravestones? I’ve long been aware of grave care customs in the Moravian churches, scrubbing tombstones on Holy Saturday, between Good Friday and Easter Sunday, and remembering Jesus’ Day in the Tomb.
Last year when we visited our parents’ graves in our home church cemetery, we saw a couple of our high school classmates washing their parents’ gravestones. We haven’t taken up that practice yet, but it’s about time for us to do so, rather than just leaving it to God dropping cleansing rains from the heavens.
My wife’s father selected a gravestone that incorporated a fixed-in-place brass vase for fresh flowers, but we live 60 miles from that small Stordahl Lutheran Church cemetery, so delivery of fresh flowers is not as frequent as we’d like it to be. A Memorial Day hanging basket holds an ever-blooming plant over the Holthe gravestone, watered often through the summer compliments of local church members.
In advance of Memorial Day, my brother Tim plants flowers in front of our parents’ gravestone, which includes the engraved names of their six sons just above the base of the granite stone.
When brothers visit Spring Garden Lutheran Church Cemetery, each one leaves a small clump of black soil on the ledge of the base just below their name — a practice not unlike that of visitors leaving a stone at the grave of Oskar Schindler in Jerusalem. The rich black soil reminds us of our family farm, and remembers we made a cross of earth, not sand, on Dad’s casket at his graveside Committal Service.
No doubt, the proper care of any and every grave is simply to make a visit, pause to reverence that place and remember that loved person in our hearts!
Editor’s note: EPLN contributor Pastor Rod Anderson serves on the EPLN Board of Directors. Anderson is the former senior pastor of St. Andrew Lutheran Church in Eden Prairie. If you would like to contribute a faith-based column to EPLN, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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