Personal Narrative: My Trip To The Syracuse Cemetery

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Stories from the Grave
Cemeteries bring to life memories of the dead. Visiting the Syracuse cemetery was eye-opening for me. The only times I have walked in cemeteries, have been for the burials of both my cousin and grandfather, and when I visited the American cemetery in Normandy, France. For some inexplicable reason, I have always been wary of graveyards, memorials, and cemeteries. This project thrust me into a world that I have never cared to observe. I didn’t learn as much about death on my trips to the cemetery as I had anticipated. Instead, I was educated about life. Headstones are just like books about a life—one that has come to an end. In America, we seem to share a cultural duty to speak for the dead. Hence, it was logical that I
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There were often more than forty graves in a column. In the six by seven plot area I surveyed, almost all the graves were raised above ground level. Only seven of the thirty-two plots featured grass-markers. During the 20th century, protruding headstones were popular. For this reason, there are graves in the Syracuse cemetery that are over a hundred years old, many of which feature headstones. Perhaps families chose headstones because they wanted their loved one’s graves to be easily recognizable. Today these types of markers are still in demand, but many newer cemeteries require two dimensional “flat markers” or “grass markers”. These memorial style plaques are flat, square, and easily maintained. Groundskeepers can mow the lawn with greater ease, and there is less risk of damage to grave markers. Direction of the graves contributes to this grid pattern; graves facing the same direction cannot be laid in anything other than a grid. Of thirty plots, twenty-six faced east and four faced westward. Of the four-facing west, only one was a grass marker. The other three westward facing headstones were large double plots. America was settled by Christians: people who brought their burial customs with them on their voyages. Christians believe that when Christ was born, a star appeared in the sky. Tom Kunesh explained the religious influence on the direction of

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