As Long As We're Remembered
Our local cemetery is arguably one of the most beautiful in the south of England. The unique designs of some of the headstones are a touching tribute to the sacred memory of its inhabitants. And it’s not unusual for families and individuals to spend time, not only to honour those who are interred there, but also to enjoy its serene and beautiful surroundings.
But there’s a blight that is engulfing the cemetery. From the hilltop, as you look out towards the sea, over the acres of monuments that serve as symbols of affection from surviving family and friends, hundreds of the fine marble and granite masonry tributes lay flat on the ground.
This hasn’t come about as a result of vandalism. It has occurred as a consequence of our government’s sweeping paranoia over the litigious nature of today’s society. Over time, some of the stones have shifted in the permeable soil, thus creating the possibility that should a child or vandal pull on one of the stones, it could shift and thus continue its gravitational journey downward, causing injury or worse. It has happened in another region, once, eleven years ago. And, of course, the parents of the child who pulled the stone over and was crushed, sued the local council.
In response to this possibility, the stones have been laid down. Letters have been sent to last known addresses, offering the recipient the opportunity to restore the memory of their loved one. But if the letters are returned, or if there is no reply, the stones will be removed. And the named memory of the departed soul will be eradicated.
It is not meant as a poetic statement to say that the very nature of our nation’s existence was built upon our resilience and our steadfast principles of honour. In the past, if you tripped and fell over, you got up off the floor, dusted yourself off and just got on with it!
So in a short time those stones will be removed. The tears that were wept, the sacrifices that were made to pay for the monuments, the generations of care that was given to the grave – all will be wiped away. And the names and memories of those individuals will disappear.
As we walk through the cemetery on this early spring morning, we call out those names one last time. And in this final tribute, we are reminded that there is life immortal that shall survive the grave.