As I stood in the Price Cemetery on Friday evening I watched as the finishing touches were put on a project that had begun, in concept, two years ago.
After a walk through that same cemetery in 2008 I started to realize that for many, Memorial Day had really lost its meaning. So many graves with beautiful decorations were outnumbered by those that had no decorations at all.
When I was a kid my parents had taken me every Memorial Day to it seemed every grave yard in the Salt Lake Valley. But those trips with my parents to long lost relatives resting spots is still a vivid memory and a good one despite at the time I was probably a real pain in the neck to drag along.
I remember my dad telling me about the various relatives who were buried there. Then I began to explore further and found that real history was right there among the grass of each and every place we went. That started an interest in those that have passed that I never have lost.
So it was right after that walk in the Price Cemetery that I started to think about how we could honor each and every one of the people buried there and in other plots around the county as well. Afterall, couldn't we take a few moments to honor each of those that were the founders, residents and working people who built our community; the ones whose shoulders we stand on every day we live here?
I started to talk to people about the project, and most were very positive. But I also met a good deal of skepticism about how any such project would work. Some suggested just a civilian kind of ceremony at each graveyard in the week before Memorial Day and a group of flowers placed at some central spot. Others just thought that we should spend any time we have on the living and not worry about the dead. Opinions ran the gamut.
But enough people encouraged me to pursue the idea that I felt pretty good about it. I am one of those people that when I get the idea something is going to be one way, it is hard to change my mind. So with the tenacity of a bulldog - and largely the brain to go with that kind of an animal - I and my poor staff, who I convinced this was a good idea, began to work on the plans for No Grave Unadorned.
It started out that we thought we might be able to use real flowers, but the cost, even with the offered help of all the florists in the area, was prohibitive. Then we looked at making paper flowers, which of course would entail getting a lot more volunteers with more commitment, but with much less cost. Unfortunately, we found after some testing that paper would fall apart very quickly in the wind, and certainly in the rain or when sprinklers came on.
So Jenni Fasselin, our sales manager came up with the idea of making the flowers from plastic disposable table cloths. The cost would be higher than paper, but still very manageable, especially with contributions from local people.
Then it began slowly. First Susan Jackson in Carbonville began making flowers for us, finally completing over a thousand of the colorful adornments. Then came other individuals and groups, so many I can't name them in this column. The contributions also flowed in. Some businesses donated hundreds of dollars. Some individuals went out and bought their own supplies. One group even made many of their flowers at their own cost and then placed them on graves in their local cemetery as well.
The fact is, even if we never did this again, this was a momentus time. Over a thousand people, that we know of, were involved. It was a tremendous outpouring of pride and caring that is hard to find in any community today.
It just proves to me, that when I moved here almost 20 years ago, I picked the absolute right place to live.