If kids learned about cemeteries, they might not vandalize them
Many were shocked, even outraged, when 9- to 13-year-old children pushed over stones in a Mechanicville cemetery [April 11 Gazette]. Why would they do such a thing?
They push over stones because it is a spur-of-the-moment thought and challenge. They run away because they do not want to get caught.
Our first thoughts are that these children are a bunch of brats, juvenile delinquents who have no sense of right and wrong, kids who should be ashamed of themselves and who should be made to correct their selfish acts. Many of us who dedicate our lives, who volunteer years, in caring for cemeteries and making them community historic places, see all our work end in a few minutes of childish fun, and it is disheartening to say the least.
What do young children — and perhaps their parents also — not realize? Cemeteries are where we recognize forever those who have left the active life of a community. It is a resting place — that is what the word “cemetery” means. It is where families celebrate a life cut short by disease, accidents, suicide, murder and old age. It is a place where stories are told of the man who served a community as its only doctor for 60 years — Dr. MacElroy, who delivered our mothers or sons. It is the place where the man — Bob Van Patten — who built our house rests, or the person whose name is the name of our street (Garnsey) or a ballpark (Collins). It is a place where families gather to celebrate memories on birthdays or anniversaries or holidays. It is a place of honor to be honored.
Why did those 9- to 13-year-olds not know the meaning and significance of the cemetery? They were not taught, they were not instructed, they did not see their parents and others visit these special community places to humanize them. They have run around cemeteries at Halloween because adults tell them about ghosts who lurk there. They are told that cemeteries are nothing more than graveyards where dead bodies are. They have not read the stones or looked at the photos on some of the memorials. They have not learned that this cemetery is a place of beauty and peace.
Several years ago, I tried repeatedly to encourage a local elementary school to include a visit to the cemetery as part of the study of the community for a small group of students. The principal and teacher never got back to me to provide a reason to turn down the offer. Perhaps there was no room in the curriculum to experience in one place how we celebrate lives of our founders; perhaps, they were concerned that children or their parents would be uncomfortable looking at gravestones. Perhaps, they felt school is about focusing on life and the future.
Yet, history is about the influence of our past on our present lives. When schools exclude cemeteries in the curriculum, children never have a chance to talk about them, to protect them from vandalism, to honor our founders, our ancestors, our families.
Children — even adults — can relate to the cemetery as a community.
They can learn about the many symbols on markers, the secular and religious quotations on stones, the distinct structures which stand tall on a hill. They can easily see that families loved their children, their parents, their grandparents and friends, and want to announce forever that these people, these personalities, these smiles once lived here and brought joy to their lives.
Why would anyone — 9 to 13 years old, adolescents or adults — want to push over these symbols of love, once they know their meaning and significance?
The writer is vice president of the Jonesville Cemetery Association.
AT&T, can you hear us now? Fix our cell service!
Re May 26 article, “Five new cell towers aid Northway coverage”: It’s heartening to see that citizens and travelers in the North Country will be better served by AT&T’s five new cellphone towers. Even aesthetic concerns are addressed by disguising a tower as a tree. Lives will be saved, I’m sure, and important text messages will fly through the ether.
Now let’s look at AT&T cellular service in Southern Saratoga County, where I live, 3.7 miles west of Northway Exit 10: no service or searching, and occasionally one grudging bar.
I, too, can have more reliable cellphone service at my home for emergencies and convenient texting! Two hundred dollars will buy me an AT&T 3G Micro Cell signal boosting device (not disguised as a tree, or anything else for that matter). Additional monthly charges apply as well.
So what is AT&T doing, if anything, to improve service in population-dense areas, where many customers are still seen outside their homes waving their mobile devices at the sky in the wild hope of contacting Thurman, the Glen, and Weavertown?
Stuart R. Horn
‘Collapse’ may help settle hydrofracking debate
Let me begin by saying I don’t have much of an opinion about hydrofracking because I really don’t know much about it.
There is a book written by noted anthropologist Jared Diamond titled “Collapse.” It tells what societies did to destroy themselves.
I suggest this book be required reading for all involved in the hydrofracking decision. Those who read it may learn something.
The Gazette wants your opinions on public issues.
There is no strict word limit, though letters under 200 words are preferred.
All letters are subject to editing for length, style and fairness, and we will run no more than one letter per month from the same writer.
Please include your signature, address and day phone for verification.
For information on how to send, see bottom of this page.
For more letters, visit our website: www.dailygazette.com.