"Do not pass by my epitaph, traveler. But having stopped, listen and learn, then go your way." -Roman Tombstone
I have always been fascinated by old graveyards, those rambling, untidy cities of the dead. Love and longing, loss and sweet remembrance all find expression there.
Our American children celebrate Halloween, All Hallow's Eve, by wearing costumes and harvesting bags of treats from friendly neighbors. This harmless fun stems from the ancient Celtic belief that
"the border between this world and the Otherworld became thin on Samhain, allowing spirits (both harmless and harmful) to pass through. The family's ancestors were honoured and invited home while harmful spirits were warded off. It is believed that the need to ward off harmful spirits led to the wearing of costumes and masks. Their purpose was to disguise oneself as a harmful spirit and thus avoid harm." -WikipediaThe Catholic Church has recast this pagan tradition as two Autumn feast days, All Saints' Day (All Hallow's Day), November 1, and All Souls' Day, November 2, both intended to honor the Christian dead.
There are many stories to be told in cemeteries, and the cross-curricular possibilities are endless.
I've gathered a collection of links and resources in a cemeteries wiki that is available for use by any interested educator.
Suggestions range from mapping grave sites to analyzing tombstones; composing epitaphs to writing dramatic "tours;" preserving history to researching ancestors.
The Poets' Corner memorial plaque for T.S. Eliot reads, "The communication of the dead is tongued with fire beyond the language of the living."
Listen and learn.
The Brisbins of Saratoga County
"Requiescant in Pace 11/01/09" by dmcordell
"Alonzo P. Stinson" by dmcordell