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Staff column: Yearly flower project to begin anew

Sun Advocate publisher

Eleven years ago while covering Memorial Day services at a couple of the cemeteries in our county, I noticed that there were a lot of graves that weren't decorated. Over the ensuing nine years I watched as people put loads of flowers on some graves, while others never saw one flower placed by the headstones.

This made me think about all the people who had built this community in the nearly 140 years it has been around. It was then that I came up with the idea that the newspaper should start a project which would make sure every grave in the county would have at least one flower placed upon it during Memorial Day week.

From my single idea, this past spring, over 1,500 volunteers from our county's population of 19,000 worked to make the dream come true.

We began in Jan. 2010 by officially announcing the project in an article written by Diana Root. Then in April we began asking people to make artificial flowers at home, in their club meetings, while attending church groups, Boy Scout meetings and other places. After our announcement some work places in the county even began having lunch break flower sessions.

The entire thing was amazing. I really thought in the first year we would be lucky to generate enough flowers and volunteers to place them in only the largest cemeteries and that in later years we could expand it to the smaller ones. But by the week before Memorial Day we had taken in nearly 30,000 lovingly made flowers and by two days before Memorial Day, everyone from the Kiwanis Club to the Civil Air Patrol helped to place them in grave yards that ranged from private cemeteries with two graves our largest with over 10,000 graves.

The activities and response by the community was documented in the Sun Advocate from the beginning of the project to the thank you tribute to volunteers we ran in the middle of June 2010.

But the real worth in the project was what it showed about our community. It showed that we honor those who helped to build our lives and our community, from the infant who passed away at two days old to the roughest of coal miners and ranchers, to those that gave their lives protecting our freedom.

When I looked over the Price City Cemetery on Memorial Day and heard people from out of town who had come to decorate family graves expressing their surprise at the number of flowers everywhere, I have to admit my eyes watered a bit. Now as I write this I still get misty eyed at the way people responded, and already people are beginning to call us and ask when we will start on this year's project.

It may have been my idea, but ultimately, it became the community's passion.

So with this column I am announcing that we will be repeating the project with some new wrinkles which will be annoumced later.

In addition the idea has now spread Emery County where we already have volunteers lining up to help.

I think, once again, it will be a great spring in eastern Utah.

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