A group from the Desert Edge Christian Church watches Lexie Stokes as she demonstrates how flowers should be placed in the Price Cemetery last Wednesday. County residents placed nearly 20,000 flowers on graves the week before Memorial Day to be sure no one who was buried in the county went without at least some recognition on the traditional holiday. Those observing the demonstration include Alice Wadley, Travis Pizzuto, Dallas Hunt, Sirena Gutierriez and Will O'Reily.
With around 25,000 handmade flowers in their baskets, volunteers in Carbon County achieved last week what no other community on record has ever done before.
They decorated the grave of every person buried in Carbon County on Memorial Day.
After months of work by well over a thousand people making flowers, organizing operations and actually putting flowers in the ground, Carbon residents can be very proud of themselves.
"I may have dreamed this idea up, but what happened had very little to do with me," said Richard Shaw, publisher of the Sun Advocate last weekend. "The community took hold of this and ran. I am amazed and delighted with what has taken place."
While the newspaper supported the entire operation, the project did become the community's, as church groups, civic groups, businesses and individuals made the operation their own.
As flowers piled into the Sun Advocate office last week, there were a lot of questions from people who had made them if the project was going to be done next year too.
"It would be hard to say no after the response we have had this year," said Shaw. "I started it out to honor those who had no one to honor them and now it has turned into so much more. For some it was a lesson in civic pride, for others it was a history lesson as they walked through the various cemeteries. Next year is a long ways away, but I think we can do some things with the project that might make it even better."
Shaw says that one of the things he observed as he helped in various cemeteries is the poor condition some of them 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."
Shaw says announcements about next year's project for Memorial Day will come in the fall when the papers staff and those closely involved have a chance to catch their breath.