Category Archives: USA

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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Caged Graves

Known as Mortsafes in Britain, already documented in the post Body Snatchers, these parallel iron bars are known as caged graves in the USA. Legends abound for the reasoning behind the ‘cages’ such as wolves digging up the recently buried, or a restraint against the undead and vampires. However, it was most likely a deterrent to body snatchers hired to provide fresh corpses to anatomists in Medical school.

Mt. Zion Graveyard, referred to locally as the Hooded Graves Cemetery, in Franklin Township, Catawissa, Columbia County, PA, contains several caged graves.

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On 18 June 1852, Sarah Ann Boone died at age 22 years. A small marker carved with the initials S.A.B. identifies her grave which is protected by a cast iron cage with ogee roof and two winged eagles on the peaks (eagles symbolize salvation). A headstone reveals several details of the woman known as Sarah.

Sarah Ann
Consort Of
Ransloe Boone
Daughter Of Lloyd Frances Thomas
Entered Into Rest
June 18, 1852
Aged 22 Years 6 Mos 9 Days

Lo! Where This Silent Marble Weeps
A Friend, A Wife, A Mother Sleeps

The image of an open bible represents resurrection through scripture, and the drapery with frills and tassels denotes mourning.

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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

 

Lightning Strike

On 3rd June 1777, several neighbours congregated around a metal fence to see a horse which a preacher in Framingham was interested in purchasing. Peter Parker was riding the horse when a cloud appeared releasing several raindrops. John Cloyes left the metal fence, and as he took the reins a lightning bolt struck the horse and everyone present. John was struck and then crushed when the horse collapsed on top of him.

John Cloyes and Abraham Rice are buried side by side at the Church Hill Cemetery (Old Burying Ground) in Framingham, MA. The gravestone bears the image of a winged skull representing death and mortality. This symbol was popular during the 18th century and reflected the Puritan religious influence.

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In Memory Of Mr.
John Cloyes
Who Being Struck With Lightning
Died June The 3rd Anno Do
1777 In The 43 Year Of
His Age

O may you all both far and near
Who of this dispensation here
Now harken to the call of Heaven
And take the warning God has given
Surprising death to you soon may
Come in some unexpected way
I Pray that all make it their care
For sudden death now to prepare.

 

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In Memory Of Cornt (Cornet is a commissioned officer of the British Calvary)
Abraham Rice
Who Departed This Life
In A Sudden & Awful
Manner & As We Trust Enterd
A Better June The 3rd Anno Do
1777 In The 81st Year Of
His Age

My trembling heart with grief overflows
While I record the death of those
Who died by thunder sent from Heaven
In seventeen hundred and seventy seven
Let’s all prepare for judgments day
As we may be called out of time
And in a sudden and awful way
Whilst in our youth and in our prime

 

 

Wild West

Abel Sherman was killed and scalped by Indians near Dead Man’s Run while collecting ripe apples. Although he was buried where he died, his remains were later moved to the Pioneer cemetery known as Round Bottom Cemetery.

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His original headstone which is on display in the Campus Martius Museum displays a soul effigy with the legend; Here lyes the body of Abel Sherman who fell by the hand of the savage on the 15th of August 1794, and in the 50th year of his age.

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Boothill Graveyard in Arizona contains the final resting place of three men killed at the O.K. Corral gunfight, the most famous gunfight in old west history although it only lasted 30 seconds. A group of outlaws faced a number of lawmen at a distance of approximately 6 feet.

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Boothill also contains the gravestone of John Heath, tried and sentenced to life in prison for his part in organizing the robbery and subsequent murder of four people in a general store in Bisbee, Arizona. Unsatisfied with the lenient sentence, a lynch mob forcibly removed him from jail and hanged him. His five accomplices awaiting execution were duly hanged.

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Rounding out this post with a little humour on the tombstone of Lester Moore who was a Wells Fargo Agent in Naco, Arizona. He was killed when a customer became irate over the condition of a package he had come to collect. Before he died, Moore managed to kill Hank Dunstan with a single bullet.

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Forest Hills Cemetery

Located on Forest Hills Avenue/Morton Street, Boston, MA, USA, this cemetery was founded in 1848. It is a superb example of 19th century design of a rural garden cemetery, and a cultural change from the severe style of the burial grounds in colonial New England.

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The active cemetery of 250 acres is so large that pathways have been named. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

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There are numerous commissioned sculptures throughout the graveyard. The Sculpture Path was created to allow visitors a special place where they could enjoy a magnificent landscape while visiting friends and family.

The Sentinel by Fern Cunningham. This statue commemorates the artist’s African ancestors and strong women in her family.

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Removed from the Roxbury tomb in Boston Common in 1895

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Remember
Edward Mcclure Peters Jr.
First Lieutenant 16th US Infantry
Commanding Second Company Machine Gun
Battalion, First Brigade, First Division,
American Expeditionary Force
Born On Christmas Day 1892. Killed In Action
At Seicheprey In Lorraine While Trying
To Protect His Men. March 11, 1918
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In 1999, the Forest Hills Educational Trust developed the annual Lantern Festival in 1999 to remember family and friends during a moving ceremony inspired by Buddhist ritual. At dusk, people release hundreds of glowing lanterns bearing personal message onto Lake Hibiscus (located in the center of the cemetery) and watch them float away as the sun sets.

 

Persecuted for Wearing the Beard

Joseph Palmer, a veteran of the War of 1812 and farmer from NoTown, Fitchburg, Massachusetts died in 1873. He is buried in Evergreen Cemetery, North Leominster, Worcester County, Massachusetts, USA. His gravestone bears a portrait of him sporting a large beard with the legend, Persecuted for Wearing the Beard.

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Seems outrageous but when beards went out of fashion in the early 18th century, men who continued to wear a beard were considered lunatics and eccentrics with poor hygiene. He was nicknamed the Old Jew by the village denizens and accused of looking like the devil; to which he replied that Jesus wore a beard.

In 1830, four men armed with razors and scissors attacked Palmer in an attempt to shave him. His successful attempt to fight them off using a jackknife brought him to court where he was charged with unprovoked assault. When he refused to pay the fine he was jailed for a year.

Even in prison the relentless attempts to make him lose his beard continued. Palmer spoke out about prison conditions and his treatment, and fought for his right to free speech proclaiming his innocence. The county authorities and the judge eventually offered to repeal his sentence, but Palmer was steadfast until his mother pleaded with him to come home.

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As with all trends, beards were once again fashionable by 1873, the year of his death. He died at age 84.

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