I am a Tombstone Tourist: someone who loves to wander cemeteries. I find it akin to visiting a museum: an opportunity to enjoy rarely seen sculpture, intricate carvings, and amazing architecture, all in a tranquil outdoor setting. This blog is about cemetery culture, art, history, issues of death, and genealogy - subjects of current relevance. I usually find something that intrigues me and makes me want to dig deeper. Care to join me? Read on...
Friday, August 5, 2011
Friendship Day in the Cemetery
Friendship Day is celebrated on August 7th of this year. Yes, there is actually a day to remember and honor your friends! In fact, Friendship Day began in 1919 when Hallmark card founder, Joyce Hall, dedicated the first Sunday in August to honoring friends - in order to sell more cards.The public saw through the ruse quickly and refused to take part in the commercialism gimmick.
In 1935, Congress declared the first Sunday of August as a day to honor friends.The U.S. public still resisted the holiday and eventually it died out in this country.But, as time went on, the day began to be celebrated in other countries such as Asia, India, and parts of South America.
Now, the Internet allows greetings to be sent, sans cards and Friendship Day is again catching on.In 1998, United Nations General Assembly declared that July 30th would be celebrated as International Friendship Day around the world, and Winnie-the-Pooh was named the World’s Ambassador of Friendship.But the first Sunday in August is still the preferred date to celebrate around the world.
So, with Friendship Day fast approaching, I thought it would be fitting to explore something in the cemetery that always makes me feel like I am being welcomed by a friend; those ‘memorial benches.’
They come in many shapes and sizes, but all offer us a place to sit and remember loved ones and friends.Many times the bench is used as an alternative to a headstone.
And, yes, it is actually meant to be used as a resting place to contemplate the life of someone dear, or, possibly your own.
Many provide a place for the engraving of names, dates, artwork and photos.The bench gravestone may also be used as a cremation memorial with the urn placed in the bench leg.Bench tombstones are usually about 48” long, 14 to 16” wide and around 18” tall.
Since cemeteries lend themselves to memories and reflection, a bench seems very appropriate as a headstone, creating a place to enjoy the peace and quiet of the cemetery, the park-like surroundings, and your memories.
So take some time this weekend, find a nice bench somewhere and remember those you love, those who are gone, and those who have made your life richer with their friendship.