I write today because of a promise made to the new Blanco Cemetery Association, which I had forgotten until I heard a remark. The remark was about the association feeding the Boy Scouts at the cemetery after having them clean the cemetery. There was nothing unusual or “ghoulish” about this practice to me. As a matter of history, the Blanco Cemetery Association during the late 1800s held rather large annual public picnics at the cemetery where a gathering of friends and relatives of the dearly departed would clean the cemetery. These gatherings were publicized in the local newspaper and large numbers of people came to clean the cemetery. To be a part of this gathering was a sign of respect and love for those buried and a social event for the living.
The reason for this current reviving of an old practice is a program by the Texas Historical Commission called simply “RIP.” RIP is a resource used to educate our youth on the history, art, math, geology, and sociology lessons found in a cemetery. From this program come future preservationists who will be our future cemetery protectors.
Did you know? SSW means “same stone with,” “side by side with,” or South South West, “sbs” means stones are side by side, “relict” on a tombstone means that the woman was a widow at the time of death, “consort” means that her husband survived her, “V.D.M.” on a tombstone - verbi dei minister - Minister of the Word of God, or “Cenotaph” engraved on a tombstone indicates an empty grave, with the stone erected in honor or memory of a person buried elsewhere-often erected in honor of a person lost at sea.
Carvings on tombstones are very meaningful and I have included only a few of the ones seen in a cemetery. Flying birds –Flight of the Soul, Doves-The Soul, purity, innocence, affection and gentleness, Hearts-Soul in bliss or love of Christ, Lamb-innocence, Oak Leaves and acorn-Maturity, ripe old age, Open Book/Bible-Deceased teacher, minister, etc, Palm Branch-signifies victory and rejoicing, Trees-Life, Winged Effigies-Flight of the soul, and my last symbol, even though there are many more, is Ivy-friendship and immortality.
Regarding military markers, when a Veteran is buried in a private cemetery, the next of kin or a representative, such as a cemetery or cemetery association official, along with the veteran’s military or discharge documents, can request a government-provided headstone or marker. Technically, if the soldier has a marker, you do not apply now for a military marker. However, if the original one is old and unreadable, broken, damaged, or destroyed, you can apply. For more information call the VA at 1-800-697-6947 (Headstones and Markers information Only).