"If you are walking in Charleston, you are walking on someone's grave."--Sue Bennett, Charleston tour guide

Monday, September 7, 2015

Today's "Plain Jane" Cemeteries

In sharp contrast between the interesting and unusual things seen at the old church graveyards and large "rural" cemeteries of the 19th century are today's memorial park (or memorial garden) or lawn park (or garden) cemeteries.

Sunset Memorial Gardens in North Charleston has the look of many of today's cemeteries.
Green and somewhat pretty with its fake flowers, Sunset is open, expansive and efficient. 
Grave markers are flat to ground and very restrictive and limited as to size and wording. You don't find epitaphs that go beyond "Beloved Mother, Father, Wife, Husband", etc. 
A child's marker shows some creativity and poignancy. 
There is nothing wrong with this type of cemetery. But the "memorial garden" is not very memorable, especially when compared to the 18th and 19th century ones we will study and explore in this course. 
How and why American cemeteries got this point is one of the many topics my students and I will examine in "Beyond the Grave: What Old Cemeteries Tell and Teach the Living." 
Stay tuned! 

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