Who doesn’t love historical cemeteries? Now, now…I know what you must be thinking: “umm, are you feeling okay?”
But really, I think they’re great.
Growing up in Johnston RI, historical cemeteries were seemingly around every corner. They are interesting, informative, thoughtfully arranged aaaand most of the time, these old school final resting places exist in some really scenic locations. As children, we rubbed the gravestones with tracing paper and crayons to make out the faded words to the dearly departed. We added up the years and marveled on how young people were when they passed. I remember my shadow sweeping over the smaller headstones of young children tucked away between moss and tree roots. We learned that only 100 years ago it was common for children to not make it passed their first birthday. Historical Cemeteries were peaceful places in the woods and I was always in awe of the passage of time in their presence.
Speaking of which, the photograph below is one I took of a historical cemetery up the hill from the wharf in Newport, Rhode Island in fall of 2008.
So quaint and well persevered! So of course this led me to think about Palestine…after all, it all comes back to Palestine (or land). Historical cemeteries are a reminder of what a society chooses to memorialize and what to forget. Take this Israeli “park” for instance:
Over 2,800 Palestinians from the Hebron-area village of Bayt Jibrin were expelled during the 1948 Nakba. Today the area is an Israeli national park which erases the memory of its original inhabitants. Which is very similar to all the towns, cities, schools and strip malls that were built over Native American sacred spaces, burial grounds, and villages here in Rhode Island and all over the US.
Historical cemeteries remind me how quickly society and landscape can change; whether from genocide, urbanization, or environmental changes…places are always undergoing transition in various forms- through destruction, rebuilding…
I think one of the main reason I heart historical cemeteries so much is that- in a strange way- they are a physical examples of hope. Hope of transformation and renewal.
…and there I am undergoing my own little transformation, pregnant with Ali in fall of 2008, posing in Newport:)