Category Archives: Memorials

Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell

The term ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ was initiated when President Bill Clinton signed a law regarding the service of homosexuals in the military, which directed military personnel to ‘don’t ask, don’t tell, don’t pursue, don’t harass.’

Leonard P. Matlovich was an Air Force sergeant who served three tours of duty in Vietnam and was gravely wounded. He was awarded the Bronze Star, the Purple Heart and two Air Force Commendation medals for gallantry under fire and exemplary service. Yet, despite his service, he was discharged from the U.S. Air Force after confessing his sexuality to his commanding officer. His struggle to receive an honourable discharge, rather than the general discharge advocated by the Air Force, triggered a national movement regarding gay rights especially in the military.

Knowing that he had AIDS at a time when it was a death sentence, he designed his own headstone with the idea that it would stand as a memorial for all gay veterans.

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His design of a black reflective surface replicating the Vietnam War Memorial incorporated two triangles referencing the pink triangle which was a symbol sewn on the clothes of homosexuals in Nazi concentration camps. The left triangle pointing downward is a symbol of defeat. It is highlighted with the legend, ‘Never Again.’ The upward pointing triangle on the right is a symbol of victory with the phrase, ‘Never Forget.’ Although the dates of his birth and death are inscribed on the headstone, his name (Matlovich) is only inscribed at the foot of the memorial.

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As an activist for Gay Rights, his words are inscribed on his headstone: ‘When I Was In The Military They Gave Me A Medal For Killing Two Men And A Discharge For Loving One.’ Although eligible to be buried in Arlington National Cemetery he chose to be interred in the Congressional Cemetery in Washington DC. “I believe we must be the same activists in our deaths that we were in our lives,” Leonard Matlovich. A gay veteran’s memorial service is held at his grave every Veteran’s Day.

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Members of American Veterans for Equal Rights have purchased adjoining plots with the intention of creating an LGBT veterans memorial.

This marker for Marine Corps veteran and activist Tom Swann is located near Matlovich’s grave. Swann won a lawsuit against the Navy for discrimination against him as a civilian employee after they learned he was gay. He also led the creation of a memorial for LGBT veterans in Desert Memorial Park near Palm Springs. Never Give Up Hope Or Give In To Discrimination.

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Michael William Hildebrand’s stone does not state that he is gay. However, the use of the pink triangle and the proximity to Matlovich’s grave suggests such. An inscription reads, “It Was Said Of Him That He Had The Gift To Give Love To Those Who Felt Unloved.”

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Abandoned and Forgotten

Overgrown and abandoned cemeteries emote a special kind of sadness.

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Give joy or grief, give ease or pain
Take life or friends away
But let me find them all again
In one eternal day.   1862

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Reader remember dye thou must
And after Death return to Dust
Therefore repent, repent in time
The Grave next opened nay be thine.

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To live in the hearts of those we love is not to die.  1939

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Tho lost to sight
To memory clear

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The parish of Saint Bernard, New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina in September 2005.

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Lights are from our household gone
Voices we loved are stilled
Places are vacant at our home
Which never can be filled.

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Abide with me
Fast falls the eventide
The darkness deepens
Lord with me abide.

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Death is swallowed up in victory.

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Death severs yet unites. 1912

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Only goodnight beloved not farewell. 1938

The Druids

In Forest Park Cemetery, Forest Park, Illinois, a monument to the Druids was erected in 1888. The monument stands in the centre of concentric circles created with logs. The circle was the symbol of the Supreme Being.

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Source: http://foresthomecemeteryoverview.weebly.com/druids.html

Other symbols associated with the order include the all-seeing eye within the triangle (a gateway between this world and the next symbolizing the all-knowing God).

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Source: http://foresthomecemeteryoverview.weebly.com/druids.html

There is a shrouded figure of a Druid at the top of the monument with long beard and sad face so often associated with Merlin. He carries a sickle with a blade shaped like a crescent moon over his shoulder (a crescent moon is a symbol of immortality). His other hand rests on a harp, which bears the head of a young man.

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Source: http://foresthomecemeteryoverview.weebly.com/druids.html

The Druids is an ancient fraternal organisation founded in London, England in 1781 that still operates today. The fraternity (AOD Ancient Order of Druids) is not a religious organization. They do not discuss religion or politics in the Groves (equivalent of a Lodge). The mantra is to preserve and practise the principles of justice, benevolence and friendship as in the Seven Precepts of Merlin (the most well-known Druid in history).

  1. Labor diligently to acquire knowledge, for it is power.
  2. When in authority, decide reasonably, for thine authority may cease.
  3. Bear with fortitude the ills of life, remembering that no mortal sorrow is perpetual.
  4. Love virtue-for it bringeth peace.
  5. Abhor vice-for it bringeth evil upon all.
  6. Obey those in authority in all just things, that virtue may be exalted.
  7. Cultivate the social virtues, so shalt thou be beloved by all men.

The Druids revered the oak tree which is the derivation of their name. All their rites and ceremonies were performed only in the presence of an oak tree. Mistletoe, a potent and magical plant which grew on oak trees was believed by the Druids to have been placed there in a lightning strike by the hand of God.

The fraternity spread throughout the world, and the first Grove of Druids was instituted in the City of New York in 1830, and by 1883 Chicago, Illinois, was home to sixteen lodges, called Groves.

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Source: http://foresthomecemeteryoverview.weebly.com/druids.html

Winston Churchill was inducted into the Albion Grove of the Ancient Order in August 1908.

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Source: http://www.redicecreations.com/specialreports/2005/09sep/winstondruid.html

 

Bisteghi Monument

Raffaele Bisteghi was an affluent author and playwright who lived in 19th century Italy. He left instructions in his will to purchase a tomb in his memory.

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The marble monument which was designed by Sculptor Enrico Barbieri took 6 years to complete, 1885-1891. The vignette features Raffaele Bisteghi on his deathbed, with an angel at his bedside, and his wife her hands joined in prayer.

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The Bisteghi Monument is located in the Gallery of Angels at the Monumental Certosa di Bologna, Italy. The Certosa is a former monastery which was founded in 1334 and suppressed in 1797. In 1801 it became the city’s Monumental Cemetery.

 

Tears In Stone

Statistically women live longer than men, and that may be the reason why we see so many statues of women weeping at the graveside. As expected, the pose is symbolic of mourning, loneliness and sorrow.

The posture of a weeping woman also recalls the Greek myth of Niobe who wept endlessly for her 14 children slain in revenge for an insult. When she pleaded with the Gods to end her pain they turned her to stone.

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The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing… not healing, not curing… that is a friend who cares. Henri Nouwen – 1932 – 1996 

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The fairest flower that nature shews,
Sustains the sharpest doom,
His life was like a morning rose
That withers in its bloom.
Weep not mother for John is at rest
His sins forgot and in Heaven blest.

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My time is short: the longer my rest
God called me heare because he thought it best
So weep not; drie up your tears
Heare must i lie till Christ Apears. 1802

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Weep not for me I go to my Father where I will meet you all again. 1877

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Father thou art gone to rest
We will not weep for thee
For thou are now where oft on earth
Thy spirit longed to be.- 1888

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Fellowship and Gratitude

“The Brownes of Bendarroch were one of those families who lived to help other people, and the good work they did for our village can never be properly estimated…”

“When the Boy Scouts were instituted, Mary at once formed a troop and became a scoutmaster…” “Mary also set up a troop of Girl Guides after that movement started in the UK in 1910.”

The above information was gleaned from research by Helensburgh Heritage Trust director Alistair McIntyre.

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To make some nook of God’s creation a little fruitfuller, better, more worthy of God – to make some human hearts a little wiser manfuller happier…it is a work for God.  This original quotation by T. Carlyle is dated 1855. This grave is located in Faslane Cemetery at , Argyll & Bute, Scotland

When the World Scout Emblem was introduced in 1908 it wGarelocheadas in the shape of a fleur-de-lis arrowhead. The symbol was chosen by Robert Baden-Powell as a reminder of the arm badge of ‘reconnaissance scouts’ who served in the British Army. The addition of 2 five-pointed stars in the wings made the emblem unique to Scouting and therefore copyrighted. Each of the ten points symbolised one of ten Scout Laws.

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Baden-Powell later introduced the Thanks badge with the fleur-de-lis superimposed on a swastika. It was worn in various forms until 1935 and was recognized as a badge of fellowship among Scouts all over the world. It was offered as a token of gratitude.

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“I want specially to remind Scouts to keep their eyes open and never fail to spot anyone wearing this badge. It is their duty then to go up to such a person, make the scout sign, and ask if they can be of service to the wearer.” Robert Baden-Powell.

Although the swastika is synonymous with the German Nazi party and Hitler, it has been in use in many forms for 5000 years. The word is composed of two words in Sanskrit, “Su” (good) and “Asati” (to exist) which means “May good prevail.” Originally a symbol of good fortune, peace and prosperity, its true meaning was desecrated by the Nazis.

 

Mourning Cards

The average lifespan in the 19th century was approximately 50 years. Death followed disease, hunger, accidents and war. Child mortality rates were especially high. The death of Queen Victoria’s husband, whom she mourned from 1861 until her death in 1901, ushered in a strict formality in mourning etiquette.

The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.

Notification of the death of a relative or friend was made by 4½” x 3” funeral cards. Introduction was made with the phrase In Affectionate Remembrance or Sacred to the Memory of followed by the name of the deceased, the dates of birth and death, accompanied by a poem or biblical verse. Although the wording was simple, the artwork was formed with elaborate embossing which was rife with symbolism. The examples of mourning cards in this post contain the following symbols.

  • Angel holding a wreath represents the memory of a loved one
  • Bible is a symbol of resurrection through the scripture
  • Patonce cross( refers to any cross which has expanded ends) represents faith, wisdom and charity
  • Cross and Crown symbols together represent the reward of eternal life after death for those who believe in the crucified Savior
  • Doves: The white dove is symbolic of purity and spirituality
  • Drapes represent the partition between life and death
  • Lamp represents the flame of life, eventually extinguished by death
  • Laurels or laurel wreaths identify victory over death as in the resurrection
  • Obelisks represent the flight of the soul to Heaven
  • Palm branches are a symbol of eternal peace
  • Shroud protects the body as the soul ascends to Heaven
  • Inverted Torch represents life continuing after death
  • Weeping willows are symbolic of sorrow, grief and mourning
  • Winged Cherub is a symbol of the deceased soul in flight.

In life beloved, in death lamented

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To us for eleven months
Her pleasant smile was given
And then she bade farewell to earth
And went to live in Heaven.
1882 lament on a gravestone

People feared a lack of mourning more than they feared death itself. Portraits were taken with loved ones dressed in mourning often holding a photo of the deceased.

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