Thirteen 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 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 over 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 this single idea, over the last two years 1,800 volunteers from the two county areas population of about 30,000 have made this dream come true.
We began in January 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.
Then in the last two years we also expanded our efforts to Emery County where it was just as successful with the help of groups there and the Emery County Progress staff.
The activities and response by the communities was documented in the papers from the beginning of the projects to the thank you tribute to volunteers we ran each year.
But the real worth in the project was what it showed about our communities. It showed that we honor those who helped to build our lives and our towns, 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.
Each year I have looked over the cemeteries in the area at the end of the project and I am amazed at how giving the people of both counties are in giving their time and efforts to these projects. In this day and age, where life is so busy, and just surviving the times seems so much harder than it used to be,
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 once again this year.
So ladies and gentlemen, start up your flower makers.
I think, once again, it will be a great spring in eastern Utah.