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Monday, December 5, 2016

Gravesites Take On A Life of Their Own???


Journalist Gary Pettus provides a horribly inaccurate title for what should be a harmless promotional article, "Gravesites" certainly do not "Take On A Life of Their Own" in Mississippi--not without some help. Cemeteries fortunate enough to have a competent sexton and maintenance trust take on the appearance that the living visitors and caretakers project and carve into the landscape. We have seen, however, so many sextons act with such negligence and cemetery maintenance trusts go bankrupt recently due to corruption and incompetence. Abandoned cemeteries and bankrupt organizations seem to be becoming the norm in Mississippi, but even they take on the appearance and alleged "life" of nature as it encroaches slowly but surely on the rows of graves.

Gary Pettus, "Gravesites Take On A Life
of Their Own," JCL, May 21, 2006.
Gravesites are kept up by dedicated individuals in rural and urban locales often for little compensation. There is no sexton for the graves of many blues musicians buried in abandoned African American cemeteries. Graves certainly do not take on a self-cleaning life of their own. Folks like Robert Mortimer in Greenville knows what I'm talking about, and Robert Birdsong has to pull the weeds and weed-eat several forlorn burial grounds around Clarksdale. It takes sweat, toil, and precious life's blood to maintain these hallowed grounds and see that these graves are kept clean. It may seem like these places "take on a life of their own," but if the headstones aren't covered in brush and tall grass and broken, good people have cleared these spaces and mended these markers so that others are free to believe in magic.