Memorial Day: A time to remember; a time to honor those who served

Adopt a Grave

As always on Memorial Day weekend, before we head off to the barbecues and the mandatory stroll on the Spring Lake board walk that signals the “unofficial” start of summer, brother Pete and I will visit Greenwood Cemetery to place a flag on our father’s grave.

We know that a veterans organization would be happy to plant the flag for us and some day in the future, we may well make such a request.

But for now, we enjoy bringing the colors to our dad who served in World War II as a member of the U.S. Merchant Marine. It’s our way of continuing to salute him for his extraordinary service during that global conflict.

When we stop off for the visit, we’ll have a small handful of early flowers from our garden to deliver to another grave — that of a lady we know only as Maud Seastrom.

Her small headstone has been the guidepost to our parent’s grave for years. Located on a gentle curve, we park next to it during every visit.

Now, Greenwood Cemetery is wonderfully kept and Maud’s headstone is as pristine as if it had been set in place yesterday. Aside from her name, there’s nothing on the stone to indicate the details of her life. No date, no daughter or wife or mother of on the legend. Only the name, Maud Seastrom.

In an aisle of graves that obviously receive visitors — flowers bloom, pinwheels spin in the breeze and on Memorial Day the flags wave proudly — Maud’s grave remained undecorated during the first years we visited.

Not long ago, we decided to “adopt” Maud by bringing a small bouquet or dainty seasonal decoration to place by her headstone on the way to mom and dad’s grave just to show a human touch. 

Today, while planning the visit — we’ll go on Saturday — I decided to check the Internet and see if there was any buzz about people making similar stops. It came as no surprise but quite a wonderful treat to find that there are indeed many similar enterprises underway.

Most are based in a single cemetery or geographic area but one, called Adopt A Grave, extends the idea up to everyone. Launched a year ago on Memorial Day on Facebook, the angel at the top of this post appears on their page. There don’t seem to be a plethora of members — but I liked their philosphy and copied it so you could see how the idea is carried out —

 “there are millions and millions of grave sites that have been totally neglected by humanity. Visit any cemetery and you will recognize the forgotten ones by the poor condition of there weathered stones and lack of any sign of remembrance.We, working together, can change this. We have designated May 31, 2010 as the official “Adopt a Grave” kickoff date. We are asking everyone to set aside time to visit your local cemetery, place a small bouquet (or even one flower), and tidy the area up…(read more)

I signed up right away and wrote a small post about visiting Maud’s grave.

Finding the site on Facebook inspired us so much that we decided to bring an extra flag just in case we come across the grave of a veteran which has not been decorated. For those who gave so much, it’s such a small thing to do.


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