Friday, February 18, 2011

Random Acts of Cemetery Kindness



Yesterday was Random Acts of Kindness day.  If you’re a genealogist, you’ve probably encountered Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness.  So I thought, why not random acts of cemetery kindness?  What could we do to help assist, maintain, and preserve our cemeteries?

Here are just a few of the ideas we tombstone tourists could implement for the betterment of cemeteries and burial grounds.

  Help keep the cemetery clean.  Pick up trash and dispose of it properly.

• Offer to take photos of gravestones for other genealogists who live far away. Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness http://www.raogk.org/ can help you get started.  So, too, can your local genealogical or history society.


• Search for death records, cemetery records or wills for other genealogists in need.

• Offer to assist in documenting a cemetery for genealogical purpose.  Help your local or state society put that information on the Internet so others may use it to locate their relatives.

• Offer to conduct walking tours for school groups and visitors at the local cemetery.

• Place broken monument parts by their stone.  Let the Cemetery Sexton’s office know about it.  If they cannot make the repairs, offer to assist or find someone who can.

 • Check with the cemetery sexton/groundskeeper to see if you can assist with any grounds cleanup projects.  Many times small cemeteries welcome help with mowing, trimming, weeding, raking and fence repairs.

• Are you good at surveying or platting?  Volunteer your services to a cemetery.

 
• Contact a veterans group and volunteer to assist them in placing flags or wreaths at the graves of veterans.  Memorial Day, Veterans Day and Christmas are some of their busiest times.

• If you are a veteran, offer to serve in a military funeral honor detail.

• If you can play the bugle, offer to play Taps at a veteran’s funeral.

• If you know of an abandoned or forgotten cemetery, contact the preservation society in your state and let them know where it is.

• Take a cemetery restoration workshop.  Most states offer this training.

• We can sponsor a section of roadway in order to keep it maintained, so why not consider sponsoring a section of a cemetery? Your company, society, church, organization or children’s group can assist in keeping it well tended.


And it goes without saying; if you find any signs of illegal activities or vandalism, report them immediately to the cemetery sexton and the authorities.

Contact your local genealogical society, historical society, veterans association, or cemetery sexton’s office and offer to assist them in doing whatever is needed in the cemetery.

Want to do even more?  Join a cemetery association locally or where your ancestors are buried.  Contact your state’s cemetery preservation association for opportunities and training.  And consider joining a group like the Association for Gravestone Studies http://www.gravestonestudies.org/welcome.htm
According to President, Ian W. Brown, in his welcome message, “If you share an interest in art, history, genealogy, archaeology, anthropology, conservation or material culture” then you are invited to join in their efforts.

Remember, random acts of kindness make us, and others, feel good about the world.   So let’s offer some random acts of cemetery kindness in the spirit of giving back to those who’ve gone before us, to the land, and to our ancestors.  You know they would be proud!

(Can you think of more Random Acts of Cemetery Kindness?  Please, let’s hear them!)

~ Joy