Woman aims to carry on Memorial Day tradition

To the Editor:

This time of year I took on my mother’s (June Young Carter) generational tradition of going to the Amherst, N.H., Cemetery to prep and plant for several family plots in honor of Memorial Day. It was originally started by her mother, Maisy Young, as to this day, a wreath is laid on her older son’s grave, who was a Boy Scout at the time of his passing.

I would trim and weed, and plant my mother and grandmother’s favorite annuals … white petunias, perennials, iris and violets originally from our old farmhouses also bloomed at the gravesides every year. I grew to look forward to this yearly tradition, as along with the gardening it was also an opportunity for reflection and contemplation.

This modest little lilac tree often served as shade. The lilac came from the original ones on what was my parents’ property on Thornton Ferry Road. They were likely planted the same time the farmhouse was built in the 1700s. My older sibling transferred this lilac, replanting it abutting the plot of family friends, around 1976 following the loss of a younger brother.

In fall 2014, the lilac tree was unexpectedly cut down, apparently due to new cemetery standards in which bushes and trees on family plots were no longer allowed. On closer scrutiny, however, this supposedly was intended for future plantings, and in the clarification as I understood it, the re-emerging saplings from our lilac would thus be able to regenerate.

In the spring of 2015, upon my annual journey to the Amherst Cemetery, I was delighted to find new shoots coming from the ground where the family lilac had been. I poured liquid fertilizer on the saplings, and left greatly looking forward to the lilac tree’s future return! It was thus a great shock this last spring in 2016 to find that the root system had been entirely removed with grass meticulously planted over the area. It was an even greater shock to realize the modest perennials that had grown there for over a decade had also been chopped off at the roots !

Despite tremendous sadness and grief that day, I commenced to trim, weed and to plant my mother and grandmother’s favorite white petunias. Like every other year, before leaving, I reverently stood and observed throughout this sacred ground the gravestones of my direct family, both pair of grandparents, my parents and two siblings, as well as the gravestones of uncles, aunts and some cousins all within fairly close range.

The sight of American flags fluttering in the breeze of this late sunny afternoon, placed at every single one of my relatives’ gravestones in unison with the others who also served and sacrficed.

Ms. Terry Carter

Brattleboro, Vt.

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