In the 40-plus years since my paternal grandparents passed away, I have often wondered about the status of Shiloh Cemetery, which was nestled on the hilltop above their humble farmhouse.
Recently, my hometown newspaper, the Marshall County (TN) Tribune, brought me up to date. Decades of neglect, weather and wandering cattle have left Shiloh Cemetery (not to be confused with the graveyard at Shiloh National Military Park) in a shambles, with broken headstones and no way to identify most of the approximately 70 people buried there.
The sad fate of Shiloh Cemetery (final resting place of civilians, Confederate veterans and one Revolutionary War veteran) makes it all the more meaningful that we have a well-maintained treasure such as Arlington National Cemetery, which celebrates its 150th anniversary with special events in May and June.
Ideally, one would have the time, money and health to visit the historic site this year, and see the "eternal flame" at the grave of President Kennedy or the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknowns. (Read more online at www.ArlingtonCemetery.mil.) Failing that, there are other ways to mark the sesquicentennial — and not just the perennials of "thank a veteran, write to active military personnel and exercise your hard-won right to vote."
Perhaps late spring 2014 is a good time to tone down the over-the-top rhetoric. It cheapens the sacrifices of our war casualties and deceased veterans when every social trend you dislike is a "war on fill-in-the-blank," and when every policymaker you disagree with is a "Hitler."
Signs scattered around Arlington request "Silence and Respect." Would it be asking too much that we turn down the volume on our teeth-rattling car stereos, refrain from gratuitous public profanity, "measure twice and cut once" before speaking ill of another person and carve out five minutes a day for noise-free, self-respecting contemplation?