There are no graves unadorned
With around 40,000 handmade flowers in their baskets, volunteers in Carbon and Emery counties achieved last week what no other community on record has ever done before.
During Memorial Day week they decorated the grave of every person buried in the two county area.
After months of work by over 1,500 people making flowers, organizing operations and actually putting flowers in the ground, Castle Valley residents can be very proud of themselves.
"It's very satisfying to see an idea taken to the limit by volunteers who spend their own time and sometimes their own money to make something happen," said Richard Shaw, publisher of the Sun Advocate last weekend. "Both counties took hold of this project and ran. I am amazed and delighted with what has taken place."
While the Sun Advocate and Emery County Progress supported the entire operation, the project did become truly a community project as church groups, civic groups, businesses and individuals made the operation their own.
As flowers piled into the Sun Advocate and Emery Progess offices last week, there were a lot of questions from people who had made them if the project was going to continue.
"I can't imagine us not doing this again next year," said Shaw. "It began as as a project to honor those who had no one to honor them and it has turned into so much more. For some of our volunteers it was a lesson in civic pride, for others it was a history lesson as they walked through the various cemeteries. Next year we look to do some other things in connection with the program, but that is for next year."
The paper also participated and helped promote another project this spring that didn't get as much notoriety as No Grave Unadorned, but was just as important.
"We worked with many of the churches, civic groups and individuals to make quilts for the University of Utah burn center this winter and spring," he stated. "We have already gathered over 100 of them to give to the hospital."
The quilts are made of many colors and are a bright spot in the burn unit where people have been severely injured. Quilts can only be used for a short period of time in the unit for various health reasons, so they go through a lot of them.
Shaw says that one of the things he observed during the No Grave Unadorned project is the poor condition some of the outlying cemeteries are in.
"Castle Gate in particular needs a lot of work," he stated. "Many of the graves are completely obscured by bushes and weeds. Markers have been lost in some and many headstones are missing or broken. In 2024 it will be 100 years since the Castle Gate mine disaster killed many of the people that are buried there. Maybe flowers alone aren't enough; maybe we need to do more. Maybe we ought to think about doing something like they did for the 100 year anniversary of the Winter Quarters disaster in 2000. Maybe we need to start to fix that cemetery up and start to plan a mass project for new headstones where needed."
Shaw says announcements about next year's project for Memorial Day will come out after the end of this current year.
"May was always a busy time for those of us that work at the papers," said Shaw. "This project has made it even more busy. But it is a very good busy."