Castle Country's graves project unique in nation
With around 40,000 handmade flowers in their baskets, volunteers in Carbon and Emery counties achieved last week what no other communities in the nation do.
During Memorial Day week they decorated the grave of every person buried in the two county area.
After months of work by over 1,300 people making flowers, organizing operations and actually putting flowers in the ground, Castle Valley residents can be proud of themselves.
"Four years and this project has just taken on a life of its own," said Richard Shaw, publisher of the Sun Advocate and Emery County Progress. "We have been overwhelmed with the generosity and volunteerism of the communities in both counties."
While the Sun Advocate and Emery County Progress supported the entire operation, the project has become truly a community project as church groups, civic groups, businesses and individuals have made the operation their own.
"When I go out and see people in the cemeteries putting these flowers out, many of them have a happy look on their face," said Shaw. "If you watch the kids that are doing it are learning some things they didn't know. Some read the gravestones, others look at the beauty of the places they are decorating. I think people see it as a tribute to those that have gone before us."
And the flower making and planning for the project each year just doesn't take place around Memorial Day.
"We have people come into the newspaper office all during the year asking for materials to make flowers," stated Shaw. "We also get some flowers in during the year as well. People start calling me as early as January about which cemeteries they can claim as their own. We have even had people mad when there was a mix up and someone else decorated a small cemetery or a spot in a larger one that they wanted for their own. I think that just shows the passion that goes into this project."
It seems over the years in many places the emotion that was once exhibited on Memorial Day has been lost. But Shaw says he sees in people's eyes their willingness to connect with the past, and honor it.
"It's hard to be out there looking at all those graves, many of them children or young men who died in wars and not feel something. It is a tribute to our community that we have so many people who care about this holiday and what it really means. It hits people hard when they really get out there and look, when they realize..."
And then he added "...and I see a lot of tears in eyes out in these cemeteries. People are moved by what they see..."