'No Grave Unadorned' succeeds again
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 1,100 people making flowers, organizing operations and actually putting flowers in the ground, Castle Country residents can be proud of themselves.
"At five 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. "It is always overwhelming when we see this kind of volunteerism in our communities."
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 project their own.
"When I go out and see people in the cemeteries putting these flowers out, many of them look happy, despite the fact cemeteries are a place of sadness and contemplation," 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."
Shaw also noted that in some cases the newspaper staff doesn't even know that some people have made flowers and are placing them.
"I was at a cemetery one day and I found people putting flowers out they had made on their own with their own materials,' he said. "One of them just told me that that had worked on the project before and just decided to go out and do it on their own. We certainly appreciate that kind of dedication."
It seemed since the 1960s 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, particularly those graves that exhibit headstones that denote people that died young or in wars. 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 those that have helped to build the place we live."