Category : Death / Burial / Funerals

(BBC) Vigil to be held for Christine Ford, a 71-year-old woman who was killed in a village where she was known for tending the church garden

Villagers said she was a regular at the church and often tended its gardens, paying special attention to the peach roses growing outside the entrance.

Mrs Ford had lived in the village for about 10 years, having moved there from the Isle of Wight.

She came to Flamstead to be near her family and was offered one of the four almshouses, which were built in the 1600s.

The almshouses are run by a trust and are for people who have local connections and need affordable housing.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), Death / Burial / Funerals, England / UK, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture

Happy Birthday to Gerard Manley Hopkins

Posted in Death / Burial / Funerals, Poetry & Literature

(Local paper) Funeral arrangements announced for Molly Greene, South Carolina resident who helped bring clean water to millions

Local pastors who worked closely with Greene and her North Charleston nonprofit to extend foreign aid called Greene a missionary at heart.

The Rev. Isaac Holt, senior pastor of Royal Missionary Baptist Church in North Charleston, partnered with Greene after the deadly Haiti earthquake in 2010 to finance water systems for the nation.

Holt described Greene as an international humanitarian who was loved by everyone.

“Molly was a missionary at heart,” Holt said. “She had a heart for people who she didn’t know. She was less known locally than she was globally. She knew people all over the world. She was a mover and influencer.”

Read it all.

Posted in * South Carolina, Death / Burial / Funerals, Energy, Natural Resources, Ministry of the Laity, Missions, Parish Ministry

(BBC) Choosing between God and the gang in El Salvador

A church deep in La Dina, San Salvador is holding a service with a difference: many of the men here used to be in a gang.

Eben-ezer is a functioning church but also runs a rehabilitation project for men who repent their past gang life.

Watch it all (about 3 3/4 minutes).

Posted in --El Salvador, Death / Burial / Funerals, Drugs/Drug Addiction, Evangelicals, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Soteriology, Violence

A Family Update on Molly Greene RIP from Water Missions International

From here: Dearest friends and family,

Last week, our family was devastated by the sudden loss of our precious Molly. The last few days have seemed like an eternity and have been the most difficult experience our family has ever faced. We are incredibly grateful for the outpouring of love from so many dear friends whose hearts are also broken. Molly was a beautiful soul who lived a life full of purpose and calling, and her sudden departure has broken many hearts.

As you may know, our family was in the Bahamas when this tragedy took Molly from us. The many requirements associated with bringing Molly’s body back to the United States are causing delays in being able to announce when the visitation and funeral will take place. Our understanding is that the earliest we will be able to move forward with these items would be this coming Sunday and Monday, but there could be additional delays. As soon as we have confirmation, we will share additional details.

Understanding that many people who would like to attend Molly’s funeral may not be able to join us on short notice, we plan to have a separate celebration of life event in the next four to six weeks. More details for this will follow soon as well.

In the interim, we (all Greene and Gardner family members) would welcome the opportunity to connect with close friends and family through phone or email. Additionally, we would welcome visitors at Water Mission, 1150 Kinzer Street, Bldg. 1605, North Charleston, SC 29405. All of us plan to be on hand during the following times:

  • Tuesday, July 23, from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.
  • Wednesday, July 24, from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.
  • Friday, July 26, from 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.

Unfortunately, this is not the first time the Greene family has experienced a tragedy like this. While reliving this nightmare has been doubly heartbreaking, the Lord has been using our previous experience to help us walk through this dark night of the soul. We would like to share this with the broader public in the hopes that it might help others to also experience healing. Following are thoughts Molly wrote a few years ago on the death of our son, John Christian:

When the Worst Happens: Finding God’s Purpose Amidst the Pain – by Molly Greene and Pringle Franklin (with excerpts from George Greene, III)

We cannot thank you enough for covering our family in prayer during this challenging time. We need these prayers both now and as we look to the future, and we are so grateful for your love. Molly was deeply loved by many because she deeply loved many. Trying to understand what life looks like without her has revealed to us how heartbroken we actually are. Having expressed our grief, we know that this world is not our final resting place, and we take comfort in knowing that Molly has been welcomed into the presence of Jesus and has heard the words, “Well done good and faithful servant.”

1 Thessalonians 4:13-18

With much love and gratitude,

George C Greene III, PE, PhD
Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer

Posted in * South Carolina, Death / Burial / Funerals, Energy, Natural Resources, Marriage & Family, Missions

A Local Paper Article on Molly Greene RIP, Co-founder of Water Missions International

Molly Greene was eternally optimistic, a trait that never failed to inspire others, he said, adding that he has no doubt that her legacy will continue.

“When you talked with her about this mission, she had an unbridled enthusiasm for what we were doing,” [John] Cook said. “It was hard to be around them and not be inspired. That’s one of the traits of great leadership.”

The Rev. Jeffrey Miller, rector at St. Philip’s Episcopal Church where Molly and her husband were members, said he was struck by how the Greenes dedicated their lives to helping some of the most vulnerable people around the world and by how much their humanitarian work mirrors the words of Jesus Christ.

“They reached out to the least of these and they made a difference, and it’s a difference that transcends Charleston and transcends the world,” Miller said. “It flows from their faith and it was genuine.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Charities/Non-Profit Organizations, Death / Burial / Funerals, Energy, Natural Resources, Missions

([London] Times) The Rev Richard Bewes RIP

It became something of an open secret during the latter years of Richard Bewes’s ministry that he might have to “drop everything” if the call from the US came. A long friendship with Dr Billy Graham had led Graham and his family to ask Bewes to preach at his funeral. That honour was a measure of Bewes’s stature and a signal not only of the respect between the two men, but of their shared Gospel convictions.

For decades Bewes enthusiastically supported the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and Samaritan’s Purse International. He had chaired Graham’s Eurofest event in Brussels in 1975. He was also an energetic member of the planning committee of the Amsterdam 2000 Congress, which brought together more than 11,000 evangelists from around the world.

It was an immense disappointment to Bewes that, after Graham’s death (obituary, February 22, 2018), his failing health prevented him from flying to take part in a ceremony viewed by millions. It could have been a fitting climax to a magnificent career.

Bewes was one of the most versatile Anglican parish clergy of his generation. He served as rector of All Souls, Langham Place in central London from 1983 to 2004 as a successor to John Stott and Michael Baughen.

Read it all (subscription).

Posted in Church of England (CoE), Death / Burial / Funerals, Evangelicals, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry

The Rev. Fred Berkaw RIP

“Fred had a passion for social justice issues and played a leading role in race reconciliation in Summerville,” said the Rev. Mike Lumpkin (retired), former Rector of St. Paul’s. “He loved the Lord Jesus and loved his church.” In an effort to address underlying issues of race and class, Fred established a Reading Camp at St. Paul’s, which helped low-income students improve their reading skills while building their self-esteem and confidence.

Fred, and his loving wife, Mary, would have been married 49 years this coming October.

Read it all.

Posted in * South Carolina, Death / Burial / Funerals, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry

(Christian Today) A grotesque abortion ruling in the UK was defeated – but why was an abortion activist the judge?

You will have an abortion, she said.

You will have an abortion even though you wish to keep the baby. You will have an abortion, even though your mother has said she will care for the baby if you cannot. You will have an abortion, though your social worker has said the pregnancy should proceed. You will have an abortion, even though you are now 22 weeks pregnant.

You will have an abortion because we will not countenance the child being adopted or fostered. You will have an abortion, the judge said. And that is the end of the matter.

Except that, by the grace of God, it wasn’t. A court ruling last Friday, which sickened Christians across the UK has now been overturned by appeal judges. Hallelujah and Amen!

The original decision by Judge Nathalie Lieven in the Court of Protection was that a young woman with a learning disorder should be forced to have an abortion – against her will.

But in the Court of Appeal on Monday, Lord Justice McCombe, Lady Justice King and Lord Justice Jackson overturned the decision. Their reasons will be made public later. But even as countless Christians rejoice over the saving of a child’s life, many questions come to mind

Read it all and follow all the links, especially to the First Things article by Obianuju Ekeocha.

Posted in Anthropology, Children, Death / Burial / Funerals, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology

(Washington Post) Jamie Aten–How A Stephen Curry produced documentary explores forgiveness in the 2015 Charleston church shooting

Q: What first drew you to the “Emanuel” project?

A: I had just gotten married in June 2015, and I was on my honeymoon in New York. I walked into the bedroom, and my wife was crying. She told me nine people had been shot in their Bible study in Charleston, South Carolina.

Then she looked at me and said, “You don’t understand, they’re forgiving him. The family members are forgiving the murderer.” I remember looking at her and saying, “I hope whoever tells that story doesn’t skip that part.” It was that moment for me — encountering this radical, scandalous forgiveness and love for the murderer — that drew me into the story. I wanted the world to know that part of the story.

Q: What was different in this story?

A: It was that they loved him. It was this moment when (survivor) Felicia Sanders said something to him that really changed me: “We enjoyed you.”

When I go out and talk about the film, I’m not just talking about them forgiving him because they wanted to be emotionally free from him. I’m talking about a kind of love you rarely see. Their love for the shooter was a love that said, “I will bear the full weight of the wrong,” which is the highest kind of love — a love for your enemy.

Read it all.

Posted in * South Carolina, Adult Education, America/U.S.A., Death / Burial / Funerals, History, Movies & Television, Parish Ministry, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture, Violence

(The Witness) Jemar Tisby–Reflections on the Anniversary of the Murder of the Emanuel Nine

The slayings at Emanuel AME sparked a surge or long-overdue reforms. It served as the impetus to finally remove the confederate flag from the statehouse grounds Charleston. Black people and their allies have long viewed the Confederate flag as the symbol par excellence of white supremacy. The murder of nine black people in a Bible study finally convinced enough white people that the Confederate flag might actually represent not heritage but hate.

Mayor Mitch Landrieu cited the Mother Emanuel tragedy as part of the motivation for his bold stand to take down the Confederate monuments in New Orleans. Landrieu first started calling for the monuments to come down less than a week after the Emanuel Nine were killed.

Racial progress is not a myth, but neither is it a completed project. We have come a long way from race-based chattel slavery. We have come a long way from signs over drinking fountains and riding the back of the bus. We have come a long way from preventing black people from sitting in the pews alongside white people.

But let’s not use racial progress as a reason to ignore the ways racism reinvents itself….

Read it all.

Posted in * South Carolina, America/U.S.A., Death / Burial / Funerals, History, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture, Violence

Remembering Especially the Charleston 9 who died 4 years ago today in the Mother Emanuel Church Shooting

Posted in * South Carolina, Adult Education, America/U.S.A., Death / Burial / Funerals, History, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Movies & Television, Parish Ministry, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture, Violence

(Local Paper) Emanuel AME church, shooting survivors form bonds with other traumatized houses of worship

Monday will mark four years since an angry young man with murderous intent slipped into Emanuel and headed for 12 people settling in for Bible study. He sat with them for about an hour, not speaking, until they shut their eyes for closing prayer.

Then he pulled out a gun.

Nine people died that night, including the Rev. Clementa Pinckney, the church’s pastor and a state senator who was sitting beside the killer.

And the Rev. Daniel Simmons Sr., a retired minister who led the study most Wednesdays.

And Myra Thomson, who led it for the first time that night.

And Susie Jackson, at 87 the oldest among them to die.

And her nephew Tywanza Sanders, the youngest at 26.

And their cousin Ethel Lance, the church’s sexton, a mother of five.

And the Rev. DePayne Middleton Doctor, mother of four.

And the Rev. Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, mother of three.

And Cynthia Graham Hurd, mother of none but mentor to hundreds in her decades as a beloved librarian.

Nine families, the survivors and the church’s entire congregation found themselves thrust into a journey through what the Bible calls “the valley of the shadow of death.” Then they relived their losses anew with each mass shooting in America, including the Pulse nightclub massacre almost one year to the day after their loved ones died.

Read it all.

Posted in * South Carolina, Church History, Death / Burial / Funerals, History, Inter-Faith Relations, Judaism, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture, Violence

(AP) Maine Becomes 8th State to Legalize Assisted Suicide

Maine legalized medically assisted suicide on Wednesday, becoming the eighth state to allow terminally ill people to end their lives with prescribed medication.

Democratic Gov. Janet Mills, who had previously said she was unsure about the bill, signed it in her office.

Oregon was the first state to legalize such assistance, in 1997, and it took over a decade for the next state, Washington, to follow suit. While still controversial, assisted suicide legislation is winning increasing acceptance in the United States, and this year at least 18 states considered such measures.

Maine’s bill would allow doctors to prescribe terminally ill people a fatal dose of medication. The bill declares that obtaining or administering life-ending medication is not suicide under state law, thereby legalizing the practice often called medically assisted suicide.

The proposal had failed once in a statewide vote and at least seven previous times in the Legislature. The current bill

Read it all.

Posted in Aging / the Elderly, Anthropology, Death / Burial / Funerals, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Pastoral Theology, Science & Technology, State Government, Theology

([London] Times) Frances Whitehead RIP

[Frances] Whitehead was fast and focused: her typing speed perhaps 80-90 words a minute on a manual typewriter. Phone calls were always brief, some would say terse. Yet those who knew her well encountered warmth and laughter. She brought a genuine care for people expressed through a huge correspondence, some 30 personal letters a day, over her own name or John Stott’s. A seminary library in San Salvador was named after her in 2006 to mark 50 years of service.

[John] Stott and Whitehead ran global endeavours on a shoestring, with help only from a study assistant. Using Charles Simeon’s phrase, Stott named the three “the happy triumvirate”.

In 2001, Archbishop George Carey conferred on Whitehead a Lambeth MA, for which she donned the Oxford gown and red silk. When news of this honour was announced in All Souls, it was greeted with a standing ovation.

Frances Whitehead was born in 1925 in Bovey Tracey, in Devon, the second child of Captain Claude Whitehead, and his wife, Evelyn Eastley. Her older sister, Pamela, died of leukaemia, aged eight. She would go on to Malvern Girls’ College, where she was head girl of Summerside House.

During the war she worked as a mathematician at the Radar Research and Development Establishment (RRDE) in Malvern and then, from 1951, she worked at the BBC, under the producer Mary Treadgold. She was a good horsewoman, and enjoyed the BBC riding club, hiring horses in Victoria, and riding up to the barracks of the Household Cavalry in Knightsbridge.

Read it all (subscription).

Posted in Church of England (CoE), Death / Burial / Funerals, Evangelicals, Ministry of the Laity, Parish Ministry

(AS) Wesley Smith–Canada Conjoins Euthanasia and Organ Harvesting

How do you convince society to embrace euthanasia as a means of attaining utilitarian benefit — while also convincing yourselves that your culture remains both moral and compassionate? Once you get past the squeamishness of allowing doctors to kill patients, it isn’t that difficult: First, legalize euthanasia of the seriously ill and disabled. Once the community becomes comfortable with doctors committing homicide as a means of eliminating suffering, you next allow those who want to be killed to donate their organs. After all, they won’t need their livers anymore, so why not let others have them? Next, ensure that the potential of euthanasia to add to the organ supply becomes well known, both to normalize doctor-administered death and to induce people to believe they or a loved one might personally benefit from doctors killing the sick. Finally, over time, you expand euthanasia/organ donation eligibility to patients who are far from death, such as those with neuromuscular disabilities or psychiatric illnesses — better organs, don’t you know — justifying it as you go along with soothing words of respecting autonomy and preventing suffering.

Lest any reader believe that I am conjuring a paranoid dystopian fantasy, this very scenario consumed the medical and organ transplant ethics of the Netherlands and Belgium, nations in which patients with mental illnesses and other diseases are admitted to hospitals, killed by lethal injection, and then wheeled immediately into a surgical suite for organ harvesting. When I bring up these facts in domestic debates about assisted suicide, supporters of doctor-prescribed death sniff that the Netherlands and Belgium are not the United States, and that such crass utilitarian exploitation of the despairing would never happen here. But why? Once we deem certain categories of people to be killable — which is precisely what legalizing assisted suicide and euthanasia does — it becomes all too easy to conclude, as Belgians and Netherlanders have, that since these patients want to die we might as well benefit societally from their deaths.

That is precisely what happened in Canada, the United States’ closest cultural cousin, and indeed, a country many Americans see as having more enlightened public policies than our own. In the three years since lethal injection euthanasia became legal in Canada, at least thirty people were organ harvested after being euthanized. That number may soon increase dramatically as the Canadian medical establishment has come out solidly in favor of letting people who die by euthanasia to also become organ donors.

A major ethics “Guidance” was just published in the Journal of the Canadian Medical Association that establishes euthanasia kill-and-harvest (my blunt term) protocols. It makes for a chilling read.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Canada, Death / Burial / Funerals, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology, Theology

Remembering D-Day–The Poem “For the Fallen” by Robert Laurence Binyon (1869-1943)

They went with songs to the battle, they were young,
Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted;
They fell with their faces to the foe.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

Read it all.

Posted in Death / Burial / Funerals, History, Military / Armed Forces, Poetry & Literature

(Guardian from 2014) Giles Fraser–If Christianity is a romance, helping those we love to die is an abandonment

One of the main things that many atheists (and some believers for that matter) fail to register about Christianity is that it’s not so much a metaphysical account of the nature of the universe, nor a codification of ancient moral principles, but primarily a romance, a sort of love story.

…the logic of the romantic is that the centre of gravity in human life has to be outside of oneself to be meaningful. If it’s all about my choices, then human life has withered to the dimensions of my paltry imagination. Some will believe the control held out by autonomy to be liberating. I think it’s about trying to limit our exposure to that which is beyond our control.

If I ever got so low as to be close to suicide, I don’t want anyone respecting my choice. I want them to come looking for me and to try and love or bully me out of it – even if I am lost to a settled decision for self-destruction.

I would be secretly very unhappy if my children didn’t attempt every trick in the book to overrule me. The thought that they would go “OK, Dad, it’s your choice” feels like a terrifying form of abandonment.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Death / Burial / Funerals, Ethics / Moral Theology, Life Ethics, Religion & Culture, Suicide, Theology

(CEN) Peter Mullen–Music to end by

We’ve known for a long time that some funny things go on at funerals, and some of the funniest are the musical choices. When I was ordained – just after the Norman Conquest – the favourites were such as O God our help in ages past and Abide with me. But in a survey published a couple of weeks ago, these stalwarts were shown to have been supplanted by a pop version of Bohemian Rhapsody and Freddie Mercury’s These are the days of our lives. Other popular choices were Robbie Williams’ Angels and the anthem of the Liverpool Kop You’ll never walk alone.

Though I can’t imagine why any Christian should request John Lennon’s nihilistic doggerel which goes:

Imagine there’s no heaven

It’s easy if you try,

No hell below us

Above us only sky

Imagine all the people living for today

That recent survey revealed that many – “mourners” doesn’t seem the right word somehow – want “something to make us giggle” when we are saying good bye – or hopefully au revoir – to our loved ones. An old lady in the parish of St Mary, Oldham, where I was once curate, asked for George Formby’s When I’m cleaning windows and a colleague told me of someone else who had If I knew you were coming I’d have baked a cake. So that’s what the messianic banquet is all about, is it?

I recall one particularly hilarious apocalypse at the crematorium – I’d better not say which crematorium in order to protect the innocent. I was warned that when you pushed the button at the end of the service there would be a nasty surprise. The mechanism was old and crabby. I pushed the button for the coffin to start its mechanical journey through the curtains and into the beyond. There was a great CHUNG! And everyone looked up, startled. But that little disturbance was only for starters…

The coffin was supposed to pass through the curtains and on to a trolley placed in the anteroom by the two cheerful necrophiles who acted as vergers. Supposed to. Only this time they had forgotten.

So off goes Uncle Fred through the crack of doom. And suddenly there’s an almighty CRASH! Followed by the loud utterance of two words from what I suppose we must call the other side – the second word was hell! The first word is altogether unmentionable! The congregation were paralysed, no doubt thinking that those two words were Uncle Fred’s first disapproving comments on the life of the world to come. I went behind. What a scene: imagine the dead Scrooge in his nightshirt, the vergers’ copy of The Sun having fallen across his face.

Read it all (subscription).

Posted in Church of England (CoE), Death / Burial / Funerals, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Parish Ministry

(Daily Monitor) The story of Anglican martyrs

The story of the Uganda martyrs is said to have started in January 1885 when members of the Church Missionary Society (CMS) asked the king for permission to leave as they were going to Kagei in Tanzania to have some letters sent back home.

They were officially seen off by the kingdom, with Katikkiro (Buganda’s prime minister) Mukasa presenting Alexander Mackay with gifts such as foodstuff to be used during the journey.

On January 30, 1885, Mackay, Robert P. Ashe and three native boys as their helpers set off for the journey to Kagei from the mission house in Busega. Three hour’s into the journey, they were attacked and ordered back to where they had come from without explanation.
Upon reaching near the CMS mission house where the Anglican martyrs’ church in Natete is today, the missionaries were released and their two servants taken away.

Mackay and Ashe went to see the prime minister and to seek an explanation as to why they had been forced back. Unfortunately, the prime minister was indifferent to their inquiries.
To get his attention, they sent him gifts hoping they would soften his heart. But the gifts were rejected.

On January 31, 1885, the three teenage boys who were with the two missionaries – Mark Kakumba, 16, Joseph Lugalama, 12, and Noah Serwanga, 19 – were killed at present-day Busega Anglican Martyr’s Church.
Their executioner, Mudalasi, a Muslim, first asked them if they admitted being followers of Jesus Christ before burning them.

Mudalasi went on to ask the boys if they believed they would resurrect if they died. Their answers angered him and he threatened to burn them. But they never relented in their resolve.

Read it all.

Posted in Church History, Church of Uganda, Death / Burial / Funerals

(NYT Op-ed) Ross Douthat–Clarence Thomas’s Dangerous Idea

In any other area, the left would look at a history like this and ask whether those formal convictions are the only thing that matters, or whether the eugenic past still exerts a structural influence on the present. And in any other area of policy Thomas’s point about how legal abortion appears, in the aggregate, to act in racist and eugenic ways would be taken as an indicator that something more than just emancipation is at work.

Yes, in their theoretical self-conception, pro-choice institutions are neutral custodians of the right to choose. In theory the genetic-screening industry exists only to provide information. In theory the high abortion rate in black America is just the result of countless individual decisions.

But in practice, liberal technocracy still has a “solve poverty by cutting birthrates” bias inherited from a population-panic age, and abortion-rights rhetoric still has a way of sliding into Malthusian fears about too many poor kids in foster care. In practice the medical system strongly encourages abortion in response to disability, with predictable results. In practice Planned Parenthood clinics are in the abortion, not the adoption business — and the disparate impact of abortion on black birthrates is shaped by that reality and others, not just by free choice.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Children, Death / Burial / Funerals, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, History, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Marriage & Family, Theology

A Highly Recommended New Blog–Malia Dunn’s ‘Party of One, or Life after Death’

I am not going to spoil it for you by saying anything about it except go and check it out for yourself.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Blogging & the Internet, Children, Death / Burial / Funerals, Marriage & Family, Theology

A Movie Scene for Memorial Day 2019 from Mr. Holland’s Opus

Watch it all–KSH.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Death / Burial / Funerals, Military / Armed Forces, Movies & Television

In Pictures: The US Observes Memorial Day 2019

Posted in America/U.S.A., Death / Burial / Funerals, History, Military / Armed Forces, Photos/Photography

More Poetry for Memorial Day–Patterns

I walk down the garden-paths,
And all the daffodils
Are blowing, and the bright blue squills.
I walk down the patterned garden-paths
In my stiff, brocaded gown.
With my powdered hair and jeweled fan,
I too am a rare
Pattern. As I wander down
The garden-paths.
My dress is richly figured,
And the train
Makes a pink and silver stain
On the gravel, and the thrift
Of the borders.
Just a plate of current fashion,
Tripping by in high-heeled, ribboned shoes.
Not a softness anywhere about me,
Only whalebone and brocade.
And I sink on a seat in the shade
Of a lime tree. For my passion
Wars against the stiff brocade.
The daffodils and squills
Flutter in the breeze
As they please.
And I weep;
For the lime-tree is in blossom
And one small flower has dropped upon my bosom.
And the splashing of waterdrops
In the marble fountain
Comes down the garden-paths.
The dripping never stops.
Underneath my stiffened gown
Is the softness of a woman bathing in a marble basin,
A basin in the midst of hedges grown
So thick, she cannot see her lover hiding,
But she guesses he is near,
And the sliding of the water
Seems the stroking of a dear
Hand upon her.
What is Summer in a fine brocaded gown!
I should like to see it lying in a heap upon the ground.
All the pink and silver crumpled up on the ground.

I would be the pink and silver as I ran along the paths,
And he would stumble after,
Bewildered by my laughter.
I should see the sun flashing from his sword-hilt and the buckles on his shoes.
I would choose
To lead him in a maze along the patterned paths,
A bright and laughing maze for my heavy-booted lover.
Till he caught me in the shade,
And the buttons of his waistcoat bruised my body as he clasped me,
Aching, melting, unafraid.
With the shadows of the leaves and the sundrops,
And the plopping of the waterdrops,
All about us in the open afternoon–
I am very like to swoon
With the weight of this brocade,
For the sun sifts through the shade.

Underneath the fallen blossom
In my bosom,
Is a letter I have hid.
It was brought to me this morning by a rider from the Duke.
“Madam, we regret to inform you that Lord Hartwell
Died in action Thursday se’nnight.”
As I read it in the white, morning sunlight,
The letters squirmed like snakes.
“Any answer, Madam,” said my footman.
“No,” I told him.
“See that the messenger takes some refreshment.
No, no answer.”
And I walked into the garden,
Up and down the patterned paths,
In my stiff, correct brocade.
The blue and yellow flowers stood up proudly in the sun,
Each one.
I stood upright too,
Held rigid to the pattern
By the stiffness of my gown.
Up and down I walked,
Up and down.

In a month he would have been my husband.
In a month, here, underneath this lime,
We would have broke the pattern;
He for me, and I for him,
He as Colonel, I as Lady,
On this shady seat.
He had a whim
That sunlight carried blessing.
And I answered, “It shall be as you have said.”
Now he is dead.

In Summer and in Winter I shall walk
Up and down
The patterned garden-paths
In my stiff, brocaded gown.
The squills and daffodils
Will give place to pillared roses, and to asters, and to snow.
I shall go
Up and down
In my gown.
Gorgeously arrayed,
Boned and stayed.
And the softness of my body will be guarded from embrace
By each button, hook, and lace.
For the man who should loose me is dead,
Fighting with the Duke in Flanders,
In a pattern called a war.
Christ! What are patterns for?

–Amy Lowell (1874–1925)

Posted in Death / Burial / Funerals, Military / Armed Forces, Poetry & Literature

A Message from the Under Secretary of Memorial Affairs for Memorial Day 2019

As you and your family prepare to celebrate Memorial Day, I hope you remember the true meaning behind the day. Memorial Day is the day that we’ve set aside to pay tribute to our heroes who gave the ultimate sacrifice for our freedoms and all those who have served our Nation.

These heroes are not the only ones who have sacrificed. Behind each of these brave men and women are the families that shared their loved ones with us. The gave up holidays, milestones and achievements with their Veteran so that we can sleep soundly at night.

Because of this, NCA has installed “Tribute to the Fallen and Their Families” plaques within our cemeteries. These plaques are but a small remembrance of incredible service, but I hope they are a gentle reminder of how appreciative our Nation is for the sacrifices of not only our Veterans, but their families.

At NCA we have one sacred mission, to ensure no Veteran ever dies. It is said that we all die two deaths, the first when breath leaves you for the last time and the second, the last time someone speaks your name or tells your story. It is the second that we are committed to ensuring never happens and I task all of you with the same.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Death / Burial / Funerals, History, Military / Armed Forces

Facts About the National Cemetery Administration

• NCA maintains 3.7 million graves with approximately 700,000 additional developed gravesites available: 418,000 available gravesites for casketed remains, 119,000 in ground gravesites for cremated remains and 162,000 columbarium niches for cremated remains

• NCA manages approximately 21,400 acres within its cemeteries. Approximately 57 percent isundeveloped and, along with available gravesites in developed acreage, has the potential toprovide approximately 5.3 million gravesites.
• Of the 136VA national cemeteries, 78 are open to all interments; 17 can accommodate crematedremains and the remains of family members for interment in the same gravesite as a previouslydeceased family member; and 41 will accomodate only interments of family members in thesamegravesite as a previously deceased family member.

• Since 1973, when VA managed 82 national cemeteries, annual interments in VA nationalcemeteries have increased by more than 366 percent, from 36,400 to 135,306 in FY 2018. Interments are expected to increase annually until the year 2020.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Death / Burial / Funerals, Military / Armed Forces

More Poetry for Memorial Day: Tomas Tranströmer’s The Half-Finished Heaven

From here:

Despondency breaks off its course.
Anguish breaks off its course.
The vulture breaks off its flight.

The eager light streams out,
even the ghosts take a draught.

And our paintings see daylight,
our red beasts of the ice-age studios.
Everything begins to look around.
We walk in the sun in hundreds.

Each man is a half-open door
leading to a room for everyone.

The endless ground under us.

The water is shining among the trees.

The lake is a window into the earth.

Posted in Death / Burial / Funerals, Military / Armed Forces, Poetry & Literature

Music For Memorial Day: If You’re Reading This by Tim McGraw

Posted in Death / Burial / Funerals, Military / Armed Forces, Music

More Poetry for Memorial Day–Theodore O’Hara’s “Bivouac of the Dead”

The muffled drum’s sad roll has beat
The soldier’s last tattoo;
No more on life’s parade shall meet
That brave and fallen few.
On Fame’s eternal camping-ground
Their silent tents are spread,
And Glory guards, with solemn round,
The bivouac of the dead.

No rumor of the foe’s advance
Now swells upon the wind;
Nor troubled thought at midnight haunts
Of loved ones left behind;
No vision of the morrow’s strife
The warrior’s dream alarms;
No braying horn nor screaming fife
At dawn shall call to arms.

Their shriveled swords are red with rust,
Their plumed heads are bowed,
Their haughty banner, trailed in dust,
Is now their martial shroud.
And plenteous funeral tears have washed
The red stains from each brow,
And the proud forms, by battle gashed
Are free from anguish now.

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Posted in Death / Burial / Funerals, History, Military / Armed Forces, Poetry & Literature