Recently this nation celebrated Memorial Day, a day set aside to honor those people who served in our military to fight our wars and to protect our families. Some served and returned home to family, others died and were buried on foreign soils because they believed in serving our country to protect the freedoms that their forefathers had fought and won on our behalf. The Gettysburg Address was probably the first public speech to honor those who fought in the civil war.
There were many ceremonies to publicly proclaim out thanks to those who served. I hope they were all well attended.
On Sunday, May 24, as is custom, the Defoe Cemetery held a memorial service, not only to honor the veterans who are buried there, but to honor and remember our loved ones who rest there. There were only 12 people in attendance, most in the 50 and older age bracket. I want to thank those who still pay homage to their family members and come to adorn the graves with flowers. But I want to make some points about the small community cemeteries.
Places like Defoe, Grubridge, Point Pleasant and other small cemeteries maintain the grounds from donations only. There are probably perpetual care cemeteries in Henry County who are able to put a fraction of the cost from the sale of the graves into a fund which will care for the grounds for many years to come. However that is not the case with the Defoe Cemetery. Owners of lots purchased 50 years ago for under $100 can not surely expect that $100 to still be paying for maintenance.
We have many faithful people to donate every year and we thank those who do for that. I just want to ask if you bought a house with a lawn, would you move into the house and never take care of the lawn? Never mow it, trim it, prune the shrubs or sow grass seed when bare spots appear? When you purchase a lot or several lots in a cemetery that operates on donations only, have you not ever given thought to the time and effort and the cost to keep it maintained? Last year the Defoe Cemetery collected $2,175 in donations throughout the year and spent $2,560 to mow and maintain it. We don’t have any surplus funds so how do you think that in years to come that the cemetery can be maintained without your donations?
We do get compliments about how nice the grounds are kept but then the flip side to that coin is, the ones who never compliment us for the job done only want to be heard when they perceive a problem and demand our attention to the matter.
We have a Board of Directors made up of volunteers from within the community who make the decisions concerning the welfare of the cemetery. They are a group of 11 dedicated volunteers who are concerned enough and care enough to see that the cemetery property is maintained.
If every person who owns a lot at these small cemeteries would only donate $25, $50 or $100 annually to the maintenance of their lots, the cemeteries would not have to cut down on the time between the mowings and they could be well maintained throughout the year.
I hope that you care enough about your departed loved ones graves to take a moment each May, make out your check, and put it into the hands of a cemetery board member or if donating to the Defoe Cemetery, send the donations to PBI Bank in Pleasureville. We would appreciate it and it would help ensure that the future of the cemetery is assured.
I speak only from my perspective as a member of the Defoe Cemetery Board and act as secretary/treasurer.
Bonnie Ethington, Defoe Cemetery Board