Saturday morning, seven-thirty a.m., and I was prepared. The flags I’d ordered had been delivered. With boots, DEET, and shovels at the ready, I was headed out to the cemeteries with my father to honor our ancestors. It was Memorial Day Weekend, and we were continuing a long-standing family tradition.
This year, our destinations were the Mt. Calvary Cemetery Complex (ca. 1879), Lincoln Memorial Cemetery (1912), and Grove Baptist Church Cemetery (1849). Focused research for the last seven years has allowed me to trace my paternal roots in Tidewater, Virginia to 1690, and I’ve discovered that our family has relatives buried in cemeteries throughout Hampton Roads. Some cemeteries, while in poor condition, have been relatively easy to find, while others are inaccessible (Government restrictions), have been removed, destroyed, or otherwise desecrated.
I hadn’t planned to write a blog about this day. My goal was to continue working on the applications to nominate the Mt. Calvary Cemetery Complex to the National Register of Historic Places and the Network to Freedom, my contribution to the growing community-based effort to preserve the historic site where over thirty members of our family tree lie. But as I reviewed the photos I’d taken, and reflected on the experience itself, I began to feel that what we’d done had everything to do with preservation, and memory.