Cemeteries in Smaller Communities

Date Published: 
September, 1940
Original Author: 
Ernest O. Work
Clinton, Iowa
Original Publication: 
1940-1941 Cemetery Handbook & Buyers' Guide

I appreciate very much your courtesy in inviting me to say a few words, rather to read a paper, and I did prepare a paper, quite lengthy, and un¬interesting, but I have decided to chuck it, and instead will say just a few words because I don't want to take one minute from the time of Mr. Hinds. I really enjoy Mr. Hind’s talks and I know that you also enjoy them.

I come from a small town in the Middle West, Clinton, Iowa, and probably I am the smallest - not in avoirdupois - of course - repre¬sentative here of a small cemetery.

The subject given was "Down to Earth in the Cemeteries in Smaller Communities". The question for discussion was: "Why is it more difficult to operate a successful cemetery in a small community than in a larger one?" Now I will confess I know nothing about that. The only cemetery connection I have had is with the one we have in our little town.

The paper just read was very complete, and we have more to follow on the subject "why the small cemetery needs a national association". I am more interested in that subject. One thing has impressed me in all these meetings. The unity and cooperation of large and small; the un¬selfish cooperation and service which these larger cemeteries are giving by their presence here and letting us in, on all of their information and experience.

Our problems are exactly what yours are, probably with some varia¬tions in our several communities. Nevertheless every small cemetery in this country should be represented here. They need the National Asso¬ciation.

May I leave just one thought from that first contact. These are times of stress and here we are talking about bookkeeping, about cooperation; state associations, interments and in great detail.

Our newspapers daily hint at great social changes to come. Uncertain¬ty and change is in the air. Some have said there is no room for the pioneer. I disagree. The members of this association are outstanding pioneers. Many frontiers must still be developed; many problems must yet be met and solved. Here is one of our greatest frontiers -the serious consideration of the distinguished task to properly and fittingly preserve the memory of our departed.

America will be preserved through all time in the glorious memory of its departed sons. Memory is a priceless possession. Our patriotic task is to give that memory perpetual care. I came here and found an associa¬tion of Patriotic Americans. That is the spirit I found everywhere, - from Memphis, Houston, Seattle, New York, and Clinton, Iowa, large and small, we are all here in unity on a new frontier, all denominations, mostly middle aged men, service men, older men, and women. I found our fundamental ideas all in unity. We are all Americans. Unity is one thing that will kill the fifth column in this country. We want to preserve and build these new frontiers in our beautiful cemeteries by this Association.

It is an inspiration to come here. I love that flag. I noticed it yester¬day and looked at it, and this morning when Mr. Hinds talked I just hoped that he would proceed with what I know he can say and do with inspiration. It is time now that we are thinking about some of these things. We are thinking about bookkeeping, but there is a greater thing behind all of that which is at stake.
In our little cemetery we have a Veteran's Section, and by the way, we sell it for the regular price. No places are given away because we can't afford to do that. My good friend, Thomas Bartow, the last sur¬vivor of the Grand Army of the Republic, passed away this last winter. He was an outstanding man in the community. He visited in my office frequently and recounted the stories of the Civil War. He chose our New Memorial Park. He is the only G.A.R. resting there. There are 700 or 800 sleeping in our old cemetery. He had lived a full life and he spoke to me many times about the flag, and I paid only passing atten¬tion to it. He talked about the ideas of unity in this country, about Americanism and patriotism. We buried him here. We put a large bronze plaque on his grave since he had left instructions with me that he wanted all the battles in which he participated to be on that plaque, from the Riot at Baltimore and every battle to the March down Pennsyl¬vania Avenue, and we put it all on there too.

The speaker at that dedication program of the plaque, which occurred the Sunday before Memorial Day, spoke about America. You know it is the American Cemetery Association. We are thinking about the American flag now. All of us assembled from all parts of this nation, and it is well that we do. America, the bulwark of Liberty. As the speaker at the dedication so aptly said: "America - wide as the world thy bene¬ficent fame; child of the earth's grandest struggle for liberty. Hope ever smiles at the sound of Thy name. Thou hast of soldiers whose hearts beat in loyalty, trained in the pride of their forefathers grand. Ask of the foe that has tested their bravery how they can fight for their own cherished land. Greater America, fearless America, thou hast thy millions of men at thy command. Thou hast of sailors whose warships of majesty plow through the seas of thy every behest. Deep is their cannons far echoing melody, chanting the liberty song of the west. Greater America, prouder America, now of the pride of the ocean possessed. Thou hast of aviators whose courage battles the air, dauntless and fearless they blaze their paths everywhere. Thou hast of hearts that beat for thee faithfully, calling thee ever their loved and their own. Patron of order and teacher of liberty, e'er with the blessing of liberty strewn. Greater America, Truer America, grandest of Nations the world has ever known".

May the Memorial Parks in this Country daily unfurl the flag, a clean proud banner as a symbol of out distinguished task of preserving the memory of our loved ones, and as we see it flying in the breeze we will remember that we are Americans united now and always from Memphis, Seattle, Miami, Portland, San Diego, Clinton, Americans all in the American Cemetery Owners Association. Yes, daily may our flag float over our beautiful cemeteries. The flag which we love honor and adore.

From the publication:
“1940-1941 Cemetery Handbook & Buyers’ Guide”
ACOA 11th Annual Convention & Exposition
Hotel Statler, Buffalo, New York
September 8-11, 1940