By Amanda Forson, WorldVitalRecords.com
Started as a day for remembering fallen Civil War soldiers, Memorial Day evolved into a national holiday in 1971. On this day, local relatives help to clean up grave sites, especially in places where there aren’t maintenance fees for graves. Cemetery maintenance can be as simple as paying for the maintenance by the grounds crew at a cemetery to as complex as planting flowers where allowed. Most discount stores have silk flowers available for purchasing for the day’s events.
Here are some tips for making Memorial Day about the person, and not simply a gardening exercise:
Day One: Choose an ancestor or family in a local cemetery, preferably a relative when possible.
Day Two: Research the person or family chosen. Try to find out as much as possible about this person or family.
Day Three: Post the findings on the Internet to help possible researchers from the family.
Day Four: Check with the local cemetery to see what the normal or current grounds-keeping requirements are.
Day Five: Either contribute to the upkeep of the grave(s) at the cemetery, or organize a group (whether family or other genealogy enthusiasts, or friends looking for a useful way of spending Memorial Day) to help with the upkeep.
Day Six: Making sure to keep within the guidelines and laws of the area, prepare for the gardening work by obtaining gloves, trowels or small shovels, rakes, and either self-seeding annuals or non-vine perennial flowers. Remember to bring along bottled water for workers, and if possible, serve refreshments afterwards. If the person in question had a military record, placing a flag at the gravesite is appropriate during daytime hours.
Day Seven: Go to work! Carry out your plan. Share with the workers (either when driving over, in some sort of small ceremony, or while working at the site) what was learned about the person in your research. Consider posting before and after pictures of the grave site to a website, and sharing them with other family members. This task can easily be started by one person and turned into a group effort, or kept the effort of one. If scouts are looking for activities, this could make a great Eagle Scout project depending upon the cemetery and the size of the job needed.